After more than 30 years “living and breathing the sport of volleyball” Olympic volleyball coach Craig Seuseu says he is relishing the thought of competing at the World Masters Games 2017 in Auckland.
Raised in Dunedin, Craig first tasted volleyball as a 14-year-old student at St Paul’s High School and has been hooked ever since.
“I took to it straight away,” says Craig of his initial volleyball memories. “It was the most popular sport at our school and all the best athletes played it.”
After quickly progressing from school to club level with the Scorpion club in his native city, he later converted from playing Indoor to Beach Volleyball in the 1990s.
Excited by watching videos of this new growing sport and also the prospect of potentially playing at the Olympics – Beach Volleyball was set to make its Olympic debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games – he launched a successful international pairing with fellow Kiwi Tom Eade.
The pair climbed to a world ranking at number 18, snared 12 Asian titles and earned top ten spots at prestigious global events in Belgium and Russia, but just fell short of their ultimate ambition to qualify for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“It was disappointing to just miss out but then I moved into coaching and I worked with the New Zealand men who achieved a world top 20 ranking.”
In 2008 Craig took up a top coaching role based out of Hamburg with crack German duo Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig and at the London Games in 2012 he finally achieved his Olympic ambition.
“It was fantastic, a really good experience,” he says of the Games in which the guided his team to the quarter-finals of the women’s tournament in his role as coach. “I was happy with the performance.”
Post-London, Craig has returned to New Zealand, where he works as an Auckland-based events manager and he is now setting his sights on competing in both Indoor and Beach at the 2017 World Masters Games.
“It’s exciting that volleyball has been included in the programme,” adds Craig, 43. “Having experienced the atmosphere and excitement of the London Games and been part of an event like that I’m looking forward to the World Masters Games.
“There’s been a bit of a buzz about the event. There are lots of people I’ve caught up on group emails who are definitely looking to play.”
Craig, whose exercise at the moment is largely restricted to squash and golf, is looking forward to “seeing how the body holds up to training.” Eligible to compete in the 45+ age group at the World Masters Games he would encourage any volleyball enthusiast to sample the experience.
“A few volleyball friends would typically visit this part of the world from time to time and the World Masters Games might provide another opportunity for them to come over. To play in Auckland is a challenge, but it is a great chance to catch up with old friends and play a sport that you are passionate about.”