Hope springs eternal

18.06.2019 - Hamburg

Americans Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb earned their spot at the World Championships on merit and the duo head to Hamburg aiming to make the most of an appearance that a year ago seemed unlikely

For many reasons that we will explain, there aren’t many other players anticipating the upcoming Beach Volleyball World Championships more than Americans Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb.

Firstly their appearance in Hamburg will be their first championships together, after teaming up last year; and while Tri already has championship experience under his belt, the event in Germany will be Trevor’s first taste of a world champs.

Bourne’s story is a little less obvious. This time 18 months ago, he didn’t think he’d even be in a position to even play professionally again, let alone earn a spot for the World Championships on merit.

Bourne had spent almost two years off the sand having being diagnosed with a chronic inflammatory disease called dermatomyositis. It was an illness that took time to be diagnosed. It put the Hawaiian’s comeback on hold for several months.

He made an emotional return to the sand in China last October. And won. It was a golden comeback that also signalled the birth of a new top American team with childhood friend and fellow Hawaiian Trevor by his side.

Since that sweltering hot afternoon in Qinzhou the duo have continued to excel at the highest level on the World Tour: fourth place twice, in Las Vegas and Jinjiang, and a fifth place in Itapema. Those performances have earned the two a deserved place in Hamburg and Bourne for one is thankful.

“Did I think a year ago I’d be playing at the World Championships? It was hope rather than expectation,” says Bourne, who celebrates his 30th birthday on Thursday. “I knew it was possible but I didn’t think too much about it. I just wanted to concentrate on get back playing first so to have been able to qualify is exciting.”

Trevor is just as happy to be heading for Hamburg. He makes his debut on the world stage having missed out two years ago as a result of partner-swapping that saw his brother and former teammate Taylor partner Jake Gibb.

“It was tough not going to Vienna having really been in the mix the year before,” says the 29-year-old blocker. “The partner split and changes meant I unfortunately couldn’t be there but we’ve earned our place this year so that’s a huge confidence booster.”

Partnering with a player who hadn’t set foot on the sand competitively in over 700 days could have been a gamble for any player. Not Trevor.

“I’ve known for Tri for a long-time, I was stoked to partner with him – it’s been fun so far and we’re stoked for the rest of the journey,” he says.

“It’s been quite a process, we didn’t really have an off-season as we used the time to get back in the full swing of things. We’ve been pretty much going hard since the back end of last year.

“In Hamburg we know we’re capable of doing well, it’s just a matter of putting it all together. We want to become the top American team but we realize there’s a long battle ahead for that.”

Bourne has faced bigger battles over the past three years and emerged victorious.

There will, however, still be plenty of hurdles for the defender to overcome when he lands in Hamburg.

“It won’t be easy, it will be a challenge for the body and the mind,” says Tri, who finished fifth in The Hague at his last championships four years ago with then-teammate John Hyden. “It’s still a daily routine; checking in to see if I’m still fit and healthy. I have to keep taking tests and taking my meds but it’s not on my mind too much. It’s a case of being careful and seeing where I’m at.”

And if this World Championship is anything like his last then Bourne will be happy.

“John and I had a lot of fun in the Netherlands, we played Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst on the main court in the quarter-finals and lost 23-21 in both sets,” he explains. “We were so close to getting to those medal rounds so it would be awesome to go one step further in Hamburg.”

And should Tri and Trevor be among the medalists smiling on the final day of the tournament, you can be sure that nobody would begrudge this team their day in the sun.

Bourne/Crabb get their FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Hamburg 2019 presented by comdirect and ALDI Nord under way at 1pm CEST on day two, Saturday, June 29 against Arash Vakili and Bahman Salemiinjehboroun of Iran. And you can watch the game live on BeachStream.