From the sands of Peru via Sydney and Adelaide onto the loud shores of Copacabana for RIO 2016, Mariafe Artacho Del Solar's journey is well and truly underway, and she's coming for the world and everything in it. Read her story below.
When did you start playing beach volleyball and what drew you to the sport.
I first started playing beach volleyball at the age of 12 when my brother Billy asked me to join his team to play a social tournament at Manly Beach. I already loved playing volleyball and knew the basic skills as I started playing the sport at 6 years old back in Peru.
For me beach volleyball was just love at first sight, I loved being outdoors in the sun, diving around the sand and playing while the music was pumping! It's great fun! Now it's my passion and my career.
What has been the highlight of your beach volleyball career?
Winning U23 World Champs and qualifying for Rio Olympics are definitely my top 2 so far!
Can you describe that feeling you got when walking into Copacabana Arena at RIO 2016?
It was definitely my highlight of the whole Olympic experience! Walking out into a huge arena full of people yelling, screaming, singing, cheering was the best feeling ever! The adrenaline was rushing through my whole body. The nerves and the excitement of being there in front of 15,000 was a feeling I will never forget!
How did you feel about your teams performance at RIO, what were your goals going in?
We had to bring our absolute A game and compete at a high level for a whole game which is probably what we lacked.. We played some good volleyball in patches but when we needed to deliver we just didn't.. we created opportunities but under pressure we didn't grab them...So many lessons learnt from my first olympic experience and what it really takes to be an Olympic Champion. It's only made me hungrier for Tokyo.
What about a lowlight, is their a moment that stands out as being the toughest in your career so far?
Aaahh, their is always challenges and obstacles along the way and I've gone through some very tough moments but ultimately it's what shaped me to be the athlete I am today. Nothing worth anything is easy, or everyone would do it!
Is there something you say to yourself to get you through the tough times either on court or off the sand.
I don't have a particular phrase or anything I just simply keep focused on my goals and my dreams! The feeling of winning and achieving your goals is something you can't describe.
You’ve been through a number of different coaches at the institute. In what ways have coaches help you develop into the player and person you are today? Is there any particular thing one of them has said that sticks with you?
Yeh! It's always good getting coached by different people, every coach has a different style and way of coaching so their is always lots to take away from each one. The one thing that sticks with me is to have a growth mindset which is something I've learnt from various coaches. You have to believe you can continue to get better all the time.
What’s next for Mariafe? What are the greatest challenges you see lying ahead before Tokyo 2020.
International season is coming up so getting ready for that.. Asian tour, Asian Champs, World Champs in July then Commonwealth in 2018 and Tokyo 2020!
For all the young aspiring athletes out there striving to make the olympics in their respective sports have you got any words of encouragement or key pointers?
To always follow their dreams and to never let anything get in your way!