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Page last updated at 10:41 GMT, Wednesday, 26 October 2011 11:41 UK

GB beach volleyball coach keen to dispel stereotypes

Lucy Boulton (L) and Denise Johns (R)
Boulton (l) and Johns came fourth at the London 2012 test event

GB beach volleyball head coach Morph Bowes says he wants to dispel the stereotypes around the women's game at the London 2012 Olympics.

"We are tired of it," he told BBC London 94.9.

"Once we knew we were in the Olympic Games, that was the standard question from everyone - that it was all about girls in bikinis.

"We're an uneducated public because we don't get the opportunity to watch beach volleyball at the highest level."

The former volleyball international added: "So a lot of the time the physical or the skill element isn't really so well received in this country."

Bowes acknowledges there is a way to go to change public opinion and believes Great Britain may take years to compete effectively with leading nations China, America and Brazil.

"We're 30 or 40 years behind them but I think we're progressing quite quickly," he said.

In the latest world tour rankings, British duo Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney are the top-ranked GB pair, at number 35, while Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton are just outside the top 50.

"We obviously need to perform well at 2012 and that's a big milestone for us at the moment," said Bowes.

"But longer term we need to use it to help the sport develop. We need to use it as a springboard for 2016 so we're trying to put a lot of measures in place to help us catch up the rest of the world.

"Look at Germany or Switzerland which is landlocked and known for skiing, but they have teams in the world's top 10, so they've shown us how it can work in countries where the climate is not typically suited to beach volleyball," he said.

The test event in August attracted a sell-out audience of 1,500 that watched Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton just miss out on the bronze-medal.

And with 15,000 people expected to attend the event at Horse Guards Parade next summer, Bowes believes the recipe for success is there.

"If we could find the in-roads to a more commercial outlook, I genuinely believe the sport is very marketable and the rest of the world has shown that," he said.

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