Benjamen Pipes has spoken of his passion to see his Olympic dream come to London 2012. The 22-year-old is the Great Britain volleyball captain and because a host nation gets a place in every event at an Olympic Games, Pipes and his team-mates are guaranteed of their place at the biggest sporting arena of them all.
There has never been a British team represented in a volleyball competition at an Olympics since it was first introduced to the programme in 1964. Until recently no GB team existed in the sport, with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all operating as separate teams.
Pipes, who started playing volleyball at the age of 14, competed for England at cadet, junior and senior level during his quick rise up the ranks – which saw him become captain of the main team at just 20. However, despite a burning ambition to play at the best level, England have until recently been unable to compete on a par with many of the teams at the highest level.
In mainland Europe, volleyball has a massive popularity and professionals can make a good living out of the sport, which is why Pipes made the decision to move to Spain at the age of 18. Stints playing in the club scene in Belgium, Holland and Sweden followed before returning to Spain with Tenerife last season.
But similar success on the international stage has always been just out of reach, with GB having to go through many qualifying rounds to make the major tournaments. However, the decision in 2007 to award the Olympics to London opened a door to Pipes and his GB colleagues and provides an opportunity which the 6ft 7in star is eager to grab with both hands. he quotes “IT WAS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE”.