Commonwealth Games: TASS Class of 2022

TASS supports athletes across a wide range of sports at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. We caught up with brothers Joaquin and Javier Bello ahead of the beach volleyball tournament.

This is our fourth year supported by TASS.

There’s no doubt that being on the scheme has been a very important part of our journey. It’s great to have quality support available when we need it most and we’re very grateful to be able to count on the expertise of professionals from a variety of fields including strength and conditioning and nutrition. When Joaquin suffered a painful abdominal tear it was TASS who stepped in to help him access the best specialists. We managed to win England’s first World Tour medal shortly after he completed his treatment. We really wouldn’t be where we are now without TASS support.

A career in sport can be fragile and short.

There’s an element of uncertainty that goes hand in hand with being an athlete. You never know when the next injury might happen or when funding might be cut. Taking the dual career approach is the perfect opportunity to access the best possible education and, at the same time, pursue our sporting goals. If anything outside of our control was to happen we have a back-up plan. And looking beyond what we hope will be a long and successful beach volleyball career, it’s important to be able to fall back on our studies and to follow new paths.

The pandemic reminded us how lucky we are.

It was a difficult period for everyone and athletes faced their own challenges. Training facilities closed and of course that affected the speed of our progress. But we felt very fortunate that we live together and therefore we could continue to train together. With the support of our universities we were able to set up a really decent home gym. In addition, we were granted an elite athlete exemption. Despite the many restrictions and the tonne of paperwork required, we were able to travel to a few competitions.

The Commonwealth Games is just one of our goals this season.

It’s an important goal. But not the only one. Our focus has been on continuing to progress in the world rankings and fighting through to the medal rounds in the new World Tour (now called Beach Pro Tour). We want to be in the best position possible for the Olympic qualification period which starts in January 2023.

We started preparing for Birmingham 2022 more than a year ago.

We’ve had training stages in Brazil and Spain as well as World Tour events in Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Thailand and many others in Europe.  As England is hosting the Commonwealth Games our federation decided that the team selection would not be done by international ranking but via a selection tournament with the top six teams in the country. This took place on May 26th in London and we won that tournament. With only eight weeks to prepare, our focus has been on making sure we compete at the highest possible level as well as balancing our training to peak for the Games.

This is a rare chance to compete in a major event at home.

As English beach volleyball players we don’t get those opportunities very often! We can’t wait to hear the roar of a home crowd and to look into the stands and see so many familiar faces. It’s going be a really special moment for us to be able to compete in front of our friends and family and to prove to everyone who has challenged us and supported us over the years that they were right to do so. The multi-sport events are always special occasions and we hope to enjoy the experience, bond with — and learn from — fellow Team England members as well as other countries’ athletes. Our target is to make sure we’re in the best shape possible to win a medal at the Games.

It’s a big year for the Bello brothers!

Joaquin starts his fifth year at medical school in four weeks and at the same time we want to establish ourselves in the world’s top 40. That means increasing our medal count on the new World Tour and working harder than ever to achieve our goals. Our plan revolves around managing Joaquin’s academic commitments with our beach volleyball goals.

It will be a challenge. But we love a challenge!