• Mariafe Artacho (right) and Nicole Laird from Australia celebrate their victory and gold medal medal in women's final during FIVB Under 23 World Championships (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
It’s not too often you get a second chance at something, but beach volleyball pair Nicole Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar have grabbed theirs with both hands.
Erin Byrnes

14 Jul 2016 - 5:00 PM  UPDATED 14 Jul 2016 - 5:00 PM

After missing out on first round Rio selection in the initial qualification process, Laird and Artacho del Solar were tasked with winning the Asian Continental Cup tournament in Cairns in order to book their Rio tickets.

In front of a home crowd, the pair dug deep and triumphed 2-0 over Vanuatu in the final to seal their spots.

“We knew that ultimately we would walk away from that event having achieved our goal or not, and we knew it was definitely going to be reflective of what we really put into the tournament,” Laird said.

“So we put a lot of words around our preparation to make sure we were in the best spot emotionally and mentally to be able to hold our composure throughout the event knowing what was on the line.

“We wanted to be fearless and present and YOLO (You Only Live Once) was one of our mottos.”

They join Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy, who were selected on the team last month after finishing the qualification period ranked seventh and securing an automatic berth.

All four have played with each other before.

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“In the end we took the opportunity and grabbed it,” Laird said.

“That was the best volleyball we’ve played as a team and individually as well, like Nikki said we were fearless and let’s leave this game like it’s the best game we’ve ever played.”

The pair both went to Killara High School in northern Sydney and played beach on Manly Beach. Each moved to Adelaide at different stages for the national beach program and started playing together in 2013.

In 2014 they won the under-23 World Championships and have been regulars in the main draw on the World Tour.

Artacho del Solar was born in Peru and moved to Australia when she was 11. Family from both Australia and Peru will travel to Rio to cheer her on.  

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