Beach Volleyball guide - London 2012 Olympic Games

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Your complete guide to beach volleyball ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

© Getty Images

Converted: Banging choons, washboard stomachs, an abundance of wraparound Oakley sunglasses and an SW1 location make this London 2012’s glamour event.

Confused: The Nuts magazine reader's Olympic sport of choice.

Beach Volleyball - The essential guide

© Getty Images

Street cred: Played by tall, toned, chilled-out surfer types. Often physically attractive. Nice tans. Love high-fiving.

Who’s good? USA and Brazil.

Glory-hunting potential: There is no rich tradition of British beach volleyball and that’s unlikely to be affected here. The main aim of the GB pairings, such as talented duo Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton, will be to spring some shocks.

The basics: Pretty much the same rules as indoor volleyball except teams play in pairs rather than sixes and there’s, like, sand everywhere. And cheerleaders.

Star player: USA star Misty May-Treanor, pleasingly nicknamed ‘The Turtle’, is the most successful women’s player of all time. Her partner Kerri Walsh is also nifty but her nickname isn't as good (it's 'Six Feet of Sunshine').   

As seen in: ‘Side Out’ (1990), beach volleyball’s answer to Point Break – but with more gratuitous bikini shots. For the ladies, there's also a memorable slow-motion scene in ‘Top Gun’.

Almost useless fact: Beach volleyball is a popular sport among nudists and there is a highly regarded nude tournament (we’re not making this up) every year at White Thorn nudist lodge in Pennsylvania.   

Do say: ‘There’s much more to beach volleyball than that tired cliché of good-looking people prancing around semi-naked.’

Don't say: ‘Phwooaar!’

British Olympic hopeful - Denise Johns

What would your advice be to someone taking up your career?

The lifestyle is incredible but it’s also a lot of hard work and is physically and mentally demanding. Oh, and always wear sun block!

What sacrifices have you had to make?

I've given up a well-paid stable job as an architect, moved to a different country and sacrificed progressing with a family of my own. But I've also made many friends, travelled the world on someone else's tab, challenged myself to be a better person and athlete and met my husband-to-be. 

What's your London guilty pleasure and favourite spot?

Wahaca – yummmm.  And I love Covent Garden.

Who’s your Olympics crush?

Mark Foster – I used to be a swimmer, too.

Do you have any superstitions or mental tricks?

I sometimes wear a silver ring that a friend gave me engraved with the word 'believe'. I tie it to a piece of string around my neck and touch it when I lose confidence.  

What is the most common misconception about your sport?

That we just play on beautiful beaches in amazing sunshine. We often have to play in cold weather and rain – matches are only postponed for thunder and lightning.

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