Tonight, the Belize Volleyball Association continues to celebrate the accomplishments of 2 Belizean athletes who traveled to Guatemala for an elite beach volleyball tournament and came back with bronze medals.
They're the 2-man team of Francis Hauze and Michael Jenkins, and this weekend, that pair and another male team, as well as a female team, participated in the U-21 Central American Beach Volleyball Championships.
At the end of the tournament, Hauze and Jenkins definitely made a big impression on their other Central American colleagues when they came in third place. It's a historic first for Belize that an under-aged team has brought back a medal, and today, we met them at the airport when they returned.
Here' what they and the president of the volleyball association had to say about the high-level performance that they displayed at the tournament:
Allan Sharpe - President, Volleyball Association
"We had 2 male teams, and 1 female team going to the Under 21 Central American Beach Volleyball Championships that was held in Guatemala. The matches were Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
"Central America has a very high level of beach volleyball. In fact, we had at least 2 teams in men, and I believe 2 teams in women which went to the Youth Olympics, last year in Argentina that our athletes played against. Our teams have been training with the Cuban coach that we have here in Belize on a daily basis for the past few months, and considering the time of training, we have done a major improvement. I think our guys did excellent. On the female side, we finished 9th. We only sent 1 female team. Each country is allowed to send up to 2 teams. On the males side, one of the male teams bronze medaled."
"They had a chance, and they played in the semi-final to go to the finals match, but they lost to a Nicaragua team. And one of the big reasons for that is because the whole play-offs are played in 1 day. Our boys were the only team that had to play back to back. So, we were a little bit tired, but I still think they did an excellent result. It's historic for us. It's the first time to win a medal in the underaged group, and it's the first time in 22 Years that Belize has won a beach volleyball medal at any level."
Francis Hauze - Won Bronze Medal
"The teams that we faced were some high level teams. Me and Mikey, we train hard, so we weren't worrying about them that much, but it was a tough fight to get third place. So, first place was a really good team."
Michael Jenkins - Won Bronze Medal
"Fatigue against the Nicaragua team in the semi-finals, because we had played them already, and we beat them in 2, but in the semi-finals, after 2 days of competition, we just couldn't - well me personally - it was very hard to overcome and push to get the win. We tried our best, and we really felt that game because we know we could have won. We could have placed higher."