Olympics 2012: Believe it or not, these girls are overdressed for their day job

Believe it or not, these girls are overdressed for their day job

But you’re going to be seeing a lot more of them very soon… Meet Britain’s women’s beach volleyball hopefuls, competing for places at the London Olympics.

From left: Zara, Lucy, Denise and Shauna

Down time on the beach, from left: Zara, Lucy, Denise and Shauna

They spend 47 weeks a year on the world’s most glamorous beaches…meet Britain’s women’s beach volleyball hopefuls, challenging for places at the London Olympics: Shauna Mullin and her partner Zara Dampney, ranked 34th in the world, and Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton, ranked 50th.

At least one team (pair) is guaranteed a place, but whether both make it won’t be known until next month. Whatever the outcome, they are convinced that after this summer the British public will see that their sport is not just about sports bras and brief bikini bottoms.

From the left: Zara, Shauna, Denise, Lucy

And back to business, from left: Zara, Shauna, Denise, Lucy

On court Coming 17th in last year’s World Championships in Rome was her career highlight, proving that she and Shauna can beat top opposition. ‘We’re just really excited about the Olympics, it’s going to be amazing. A top-ten finish would be a great result.’
Off court ‘Because we often return to the same cities to play tournaments, we get to know the good places to eat.
I really enjoy the churrascaria restaurants in Rio, where you choose the part of the cow you fancy and eat as much as you want!’
Top three beaches Karon in Phuket, Manly in Sydney and Sandbanks in Dorset.

On court ‘I don’t see a massive difference between what we wear and what the athletics girls wear. When we were playing in Thailand last October, the temperature on court was 50C. I couldn’t imagine being in anything more than a bikini and sports bra.’
Off court ‘Last season we were in the UK for only about five weeks. Even when I have time off I’m travelling because my parents live in Jordan, my brother is in Ireland and my friends are all over the world. But I love it — I love airports, I love flying.’
Top three beaches Copacabana in Rio, Noordhoek in Cape Town and St Andrews in Scotland.

On court She sidelined a career as an architect to become a professional beach volleyball player. ‘There’s only so much time when you’re at your physical peak, so I decided to put my career on hold to become a full-time athlete. I can always go back to sitting behind a desk.’
Off court Married fellow beach volleyball player Jody Gooding, 31, in September. ‘Last year we were together for just three months, and one of those months was the wedding and honeymoon. But it makes everything more special when we see each other.’
Top three beaches Mount Maunganui in New Zealand, Folly in South Carolina and Boscombe in Dorset.

On court ‘People underestimate how physically demanding the sport is because they see it being played on holiday and think anyone can do it,’ says Lucy. ‘When there’s a big crowd the thrill of being part of it makes me want to keep playing at this level.’
Off court Together for over five years with fireman boyfriend Tristan, 32. ‘Does he like my bum I think so, you’ll have to ask him! I don’t do any specific exercises to make it look good, but if you’re running around on the sand for four hours a day, it’s going to shape you up.’
Top three beaches Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda, Croyde Bay in Devon and Sentosa in Singapore.

Top photograph:

Zara wears, bikini, topshop; sunglasses, h&m; shoes,
scholl. hat, emma fielden.

Lucy wears, swimsuit, seafolly; sunglasses,
dolce&gabbana; shoes, scholl.

Denise wears, swimsuit, topshop; sunglasses, linda farrow luxe; shoes,
office. hat, emma fielden.

Shauna wears, swimsuit, heidi klein; turban,
rokit; shoes, h&m

Styling: Michelle Kelly at naked.

Hair and make-up: Beth Anderson at Carol Hayes and Kelly Mitchell at Joy Goodman.

The London Olympic beach volleyball tournament will take place from 28 July to 9 August at Horse Guards Parade