EMMA Waldie and Jennifer Lee describe one of their greatest assets as their adaptability, which is just as well considering the challenge they’ve got coming up.

The beach volleyball duo are two members of the 40-strong Scottish team gearing up to compete in the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) which begins in the Bahamas tomorrow. 

Waldie and Lee will not only have to battle their opponents, they will also have to contend with 35 degree temperatures, which is quite a contrast to the conditions they deal with day in, day out during their training sessions at the beaches at Portobello and St Andrews.

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“Sometimes it’s completely Baltic,” laughs Waldie. “We can have 6am sessions where the ground is completely frozen solid. It can be snowing, pouring with rain or hail stones, yet we have to go out and train.”  

Lee believes that these training sessions could give them an edge in the Bahamas, where they take on Jamaica and Vanuatu in their group matches. “The tough conditions we train in toughens us up mentally,” the 17-year-old says.

“We’re so used to dealing with really difficult, windy conditions that as soon as there’s no wind, it makes things a lot easier for us. The weather can change about six times a day at Portobello so we’re always ready for anything.”

The pair know that overcoming these obstacles is exactly what they must do to get to where they want to be. “When the weather was really bad, that’s when we thought of what we were training towards and we knew that every single session helped us move closer to our goal,” said Lee. “If you want something bad enough then you’ll do anything,” added Waldie.

“That’s the mental toughness side of things – having the determination, motivation and self-discipline to get up in the morning to do those sessions.”

The pair, who are both from South Queensferry, have an added incentive to be successful over the next week as they are making history in their sport. When Waldie and Lee take to the court, they will become the first beach volleyball pair from Scotland to compete in a Commonwealth Games and they admit that writing themselves into the record books is both an exciting and slightly daunting prospect.

“It has only really hit us in the last month that we’ll be the first beach volleyball players from Scotland at any Commonwealth Games and that’s quite something. It maybe adds a little pressure but it’s good pressure,” said 16 year-old Waldie, before Lee added: “It all feels pretty surreal. I feel incredibly lucky but we have worked really hard for this so it’s nice that work has paid off. The selectors have shown they have belief in us so why shouldn’t we have that belief in ourselves?”

Both teenagers began their volleyball careers as indoor players but in the past couple of years, have transferred to the beach version of the sport. Despite being variations of the same sport, Waldie believes that the difference in the two disciplines is drastic. The most obvious difference is that indoor volleyball has six players per team in comparison to two in beach. But it is not merely a numbers thing.

“I think it’s totally underestimated how different the two are,” Waldie said. “You need to be physically and mentally tougher in beach volleyball because you’ve got a lot more court to cover and jumping in the sand is very tough – that’s really hard on your legs. And you don’t need to worry about the weather in indoors.”

Both teenagers have combined studying for their Highers with their preparation for the CYG and admit that their packed schedule has resulted in them forfeiting anything resembling a social life in recent months. But in both their minds, their selection for Team Scotland, at a time when beach volleyball in this country is growing, has made all of their sacrifices worth it.