Probably the most incongruous sport at London 2012 is the beach volleyball competition. Whilst it seems natural for scantily clad men and women to play the sport in California and Rio it does not seem to work in Britain.
This is probably why Brazil or America has won every gold medal since it became part of the Olympics in 1996. The glamour seems to fade when it is played on a rainy day in London.
Is it a serious sport?
Because of the competitor’s attire the sport is not taken seriously in this country. Also when it is played by pasty white bodies with goose pimples it does not appear to be that glamorous.
Surprisingly countries like Russia and Norway are keen exponents of the sport despite their climates. They have, though, never won an Olympic medal.
People can be a bit sniffy about the spectacle of beach volleyball with one correspondent asking if, “Beach volleyball (was) really what (Olympic founder) De Coubertin had in mind” when he started the games.
But to play beach volleyball you need to be athletic, agile and skilful. The players need to be able to master serving, passing, setting, blocking and, as you might expect on a beach, digging skills.
The beach volleyball uniform
What makes the sport so controversial is the uniform the players wear. Whereas tennis and badminton players where tee-shirt and shorts your beach volleyballer wears a bikini (and that’s just the men!)
Most players say this is practical for a game played on sand while others claim that it was deliberately chosen to make the game sexy and to draw attention.
But as the game was created by casual, easy going people on the beaches of California the swimsuit is in keeping with its origins.
A safe sport
A game played on sand will be safe and you would think that there would no need for first aid kits.
But in a sport that involves competitors jumping a lot it can lead to jumper’s knee. Players can partially rupture the patella tendon by continually jumping. At first, despite the knee pain, this injury can appear to be more niggling than serious. However, if they ignore it the knee will become inflamed and if they are not careful they may need surgery.
Players also tend to suffer from ankle and finger injuries and some can develop shoulder problems.
While the time lost to injury is considerably lower than most other team sports it does not mean that beach volleyball is not a serious sport.