01:05AM, Thursday 29 August 2013
An ambitious teenager from Windsor has set her sights on gaining a volleyball scholarship in the US after being crowned national beach volleyball champion in her age group.
Former Windsor Girls' School pupil Catarina Machado won the under 18s pairs category of the National Junior Girls Beach Volleyball Championships at Margate Beach at the weekend.
The 16-year-old collected the trophy in her first beach season, with the help of partner Elisa Hill, also 16, from Newbury.
Catarina, of Gallys Road, said: "Winning came as a shock and I was not expecting it as I am only doing the beach season to keep my standard up for the indoor season."
The 5ft 5ins schoolgirl got into volleyball at 14 when a coach from Maidenhead Volleyball Club picked her out after sessions at Windsor Girls'.
She trains every Thursday at the Magnet Leisure Centre in Maidenhead and competes in the under 18s national league for Southampton, for whom she is captain.
Catarina said not enough people play volleyball, and with funding cut in the national game she hopes participation levels rise to increase chances of having future Team GB Olympic squads.
She said: "I want more people to play as it is a great game and always different.
"There is always a new challenge."
Catarina, who is off to study A-levels at Charters School in Sunningdale next month, was further inspired after meeting London 2012 Team GB beach volleyball star Zara Dampney at the weekend.
She said: "I want to get a scholarship in the USA or go to Loughborough University and want to push myself as far as I can go."
And she hopes to one day be playing in front of big crowds on a Californian beach instead of Margate.
She said: "Maybe one day if I can stretch a bit more, and improve my jump and grow I might be able to."
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