Beach volleyball champs 'DON'T CALL US EYE CANDY!'
Woman’s Day Magazine NZ|January 31, 2022
Bay of Plenty brothers Sam & Ben get serious about sibling rivalry, mental health and love
ANNEMARIE QUILL

Beach volleyball might conjure up memories of carefree days in the sand, but to Mount Maunganui brothers Sam and Ben O'Dea, it's all business and this summer, sibling rivalry has hit a new level, with the champion siblings splitting up after a decade of playing together.

In this season's New Zealand Beach Tour tournament, which decides who goes to the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Sam, 31, and Ben, 28, are competing against each other for a spot for the first time ever.

“But we're not calling it a break-up - more like a conscious unpairing," laughs Sam from the Bay of Plenty home he shares with his fiancée, Argentine model and volleyball player Agostina Nussbaum, adding that he almost pulled out of the sport altogether to focus on their relationship.

The past few years have been challenging for the brothers, whose mum Magdalena Bernhard worked long hours in the nearby kiwifruit orchards so her sons could follow their dream to be New Zealand's first beach volleyball Olympic medallists.

Having died suddenly of cancer in 2019, the single mother sadly never got to see her boys win gold at the prestigious Coop Beach tour in Switzerland, where she was born, last August, soon after they dramatically crashed out of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Thailand in July 2021.

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