Beach volleyball: Life's a beach but you don't earn big bucks

David McKenzie, having experienced the Olympics as an indoor volleyball player in London, wants to make it a unique double in beach volleyball at Tokyo 2020, with his new partner Ty Tramblie.
David McKenzie, having experienced the Olympics as an indoor volleyball player in London, wants to make it a unique double in beach volleyball at Tokyo 2020, with his new partner Ty Tramblie.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

It is a common assumption of beach volleyball players that they are perennially enjoying the sun, the sand and the sea, basking in their well-toned bodies and bronzed skins.

Yet, according to David McKenzie, a former Olympian with the United States court volleyball team at the 2012 London Games, the life of the beach volleyball player is not all about the glitz and glamour.

He told The Sunday Times: "One thing with beach volleyball is that it's not the most lucrative sport in the world and there's not a lot of pride and glory.

"Money can be made, but you have to win prize money to do that, and it's definitely not like golf or tennis, so a lot of people who do professional beach volleyball have some other sources of income."

NOT A MONEY SPINNER

Money can be made, but you have to win prize money to do that, and it's definitely not like golf or tennis, so a lot of people who do professional beach volleyball have some other sources of income.

''DAVID MCKENZIE, who competed in indoor volleyball at London 2012, on his fledgling beach volleyball academy, which has a Singapore branch.

In fact, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Beach Volleyball Grand Slam had a prize money of only US$57,000 (S$81,500) last year, to be split between the winning pair.

It pales in comparison to the US$2 million prize money made by singles winners at tennis' French Open, which is the lowest paying of the four Grand Slam tournaments in a season.

McKenzie, 36, was in town to participate in an exhibition tournament at the Singapore Sports Hub yesterday, which featured the Singapore national team as well as some professional players from Japan.

Since the London Olympics, he has focused on his volleyball academy, and opened a branch here in 2014.

However, he is ready to revive his beach volleyball career, as he sets his sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"My academy is growing quite well and has gained a very good reputation... so I think I'm ready to get back in the game," said McKenzie.

"My plan is to stabilise my business and use it pursue my passion.

"I will focus on the academy in the off season and commit fully in the summer when the season starts."

In order to qualify for the Tokyo Games, he has found a new partner in Ty Tramblie, 35.

McKenzie said: "I have known Ty since I was in high school and he is a very good player.

"He hustles for every ball and I think with him, we can reach our maximum potential and make it to the Olympics, which is the ultimate goal."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 24, 2016, with the headline 'Life's a beach but you don't earn big bucks'. Print Edition | Subscribe