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Beach Volleyball - 11. August 2011.

Natalie Cook ready to lay down a marker for her fifth Olympic Games

When it comes to Olympic beach volleyball Natalie Cook has been there and done it all, with an Olympic gold and an Olympic bronze medal to show for her efforts.

Now though, she is competing at the Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International as part of her preparations to compete at London 2012. Along with partner Tamsin Hinchley, the Australians won three matches from three to progress to the elimination rounds.

“We’re very excited to win the pool because it puts us in a better position for our game tomorrow,” Cook said.

“We are very happy with the win as they are a very good team and they have beaten us before in our previous partnerships, but we were just so strong today. Tamsin’s blocking was very effective and my defence was good, so we were tough to beat today.”

Against Canada’s Heather Barnsley and Elizabeth Maloney, Cook and Hinchley were in irrepressible form. Hinchley dominated at the net, while Cook cleared up anything at the back of the court.

“They set the ball a bit close and when you’ve got someone of that size, its maybe not a good strategy,” Cook said. “The serve was very successful as well and put them under a lot of pressure. With Tamsin at the front and me at the back we made it pretty tough.”

Cook will be 37 by the time London 2012 begins and it will be her fifth Olympic Games, a record for a beach volleyball player.  At Atlanta 1996 she won bronze alongside Kerri Pottharst and the duo improved that to gold in front of their home crowd at Sydney 2000.

She is set to retire when her participation at London 2012 comes to an end and plans to make the most of her involvement in the British capital.

“This is very iconic,” Cook said. “Bondi Beach was probably the most iconic to date and Rio 2016 on Copacabana beach is a good one too.

"But with the London Eye and Number 10 Downing Street, Buckingham Palace just behind us and Trafalgar Square with the countdown clock, you couldn’t ask for a better spot for our sport of beach volleyball to be showcased, so we’re very proud.”

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