When the Bello brothers Joaquin and Javier take to the sand in Birmingham this summer they will fulfil a dream that has been 11 years in the making.
Born in Madrid with dad Luis a former professional player himself, beach volleyball came naturally to the duo and after upping sticks to London aged 10, so did their desire to represent Team England.
Teenage prodigies, the boys developed an appetite for the big stage by taking home Commonwealth Youth Gold in 2017 and after winning through May’s Selection Tournament, will attempt to bring home the senior equivalent on home soil.
“It means everything to us to be playing at the Commonwealth Games and the fact that we are the host country makes it extra special,” explained Javier.
“We will have all our family and people around us there and the impact of that really can’t be understated.
“Having a true home advantage – we’ve never had before. We’ve played in a lot of places with crazy fans for the other team but we’ve never had that on our side, so I think it’s going to be really special and fun for us and a great opportunity as well.”
Joaquin added: “We can’t wait to play in Birmingham. Lots of people have come up to us and said they’ve bought tickets and are really excited to see us play.
“We are looking forward to feeling that support and seeing where it gets us.”
Having first spiked a ball aged six, the 21-year-old twins are used to chatting volleyball around the dinner table in Hounslow, West London.
With dad Luis a live-in coach and 18-year-old younger brother Enrique - who lost at the Selection Tournament before any potential conflict of interest could materialise – a fellow competitor, it is sometimes hard for the duo to escape the sport.
Joaquin said: “The fact that he’s our coach is the only reason we are able to be a team and be as successful as we have been but it has its own challenges.
“The main one is that it’s really difficult to separate the court from what goes on outside in normal life, it always mixes and we have a lot of arguments.”
Javier added: “For most people you go home and talk too much about volleyball, for us it’s the opposite. We go to training and he’ll be mad about not studying or the chores at home that weren’t done.”
With Joaquin having just finished his fourth year of medical school at Imperial College London and Javier set to graduate in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Royal Holloway this summer, the duo have to juggle their time effectively.
And when they do get the odd moment of downtime, the brothers like to relax by following basketball and staying up late to watch the NBA play-offs.
They are also big Real Madrid fans, naturally, but the loyalty of their family members still residing in the Spanish capital was put to the test when their match at the Selection Tournament clashed with Los Blancos’ Champions League final against Liverpool.
Javier said: “We didn’t get to watch it – only the second half. It’s testament to our family in Spain and Madrid because they were all watching our live stream at the same time as the Champions League final.
“They definitely had two screens and we have to wonder how much of ours they were watching but they did say we played well so to say that I guess they must have at least seen a bit.”