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Volleyballers aiming for Rio Olympics

Published:Monday | May 18, 2015 | 5:11 PMHubert Lawrence

Rick Webb is confident he and his veteran partner, Mark Lewis, will continue to make progress in regional qualifying for next year's Olympic beach volleyball tournament.

Speaking after he and Smith successfully emerged from the first round of regional qualifiers, Webb said they expect to win the next round. The former St Jago High star says he and Smith are taking the journey to Rio on a step by step basis.

Webb and Smith finished second of 28 teams in the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association qualifying tournament in Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago, earlier this month. The dates are not set yet, but the next round will pit them against

the best from the Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association.

"Well, we should definitely qualify," Webb predicted, after returning to Jamaica.

"We are basically just taking it a step at a time and whoever we are faced with at the time, we'll just deal with them."

He said he was elated with the success in Chaguanas and his fledging partnership with the 34-year-old Lewis.

Webb's next move is to head to Barbados to train with Lewis, who has been winning medals on the Caribbean beach volleyball circuit from as far back on 2007.

tough competition

Looking ahead, Webb knows that at least one country, St Lucia, will provide tough competition when they face teams from the Eastern Caribbean.

"We know that St Lucia will be our biggest opponent," he said. "As far as it concerns the rest of the teams, I'm not too sure," he then admitted.

Despite that information gap, he is positive.

"We're just going to go out there and do what we need to do," he said, "and we know that at the end of the day as long as we're disciplined and I trust my partner, we definitely should win."

The dates for the second round of Caribbean qualifiers are not yet known, but those who survive will face another test. Success at that second stage will earn the survivors a berth in a Central American qualifying round.

Cuba and Puerto Rico are the only Caribbean countries ever to have teams qualify for Olympic beach volleyball competition.

In August, Webb will return to his studies in the United States of America (USA), where he will be readying for a degree in kinesiology and sports management at Lewis University in Illinois.

The tall Jamaican hopes to play beach volleyball professionally after he graduates as he believes the sport is challenging.

"Beach volleyball is definitely for the volleyball player," he proclaimed.

"With the sun to take into consideration, the sand, the wind, the rain, the conditions make it very difficult", he explained.

"I definitely want to go professional for a period of time", he concluded.