By SADIE WHITELOCKS, LOUISE ECCLES and PAUL SIMS
Stopping traffic: The British beach volleyball team managed just that yesterday as they played a game against the backdrop of the Houses of Parliament
It takes some doing to put Big Ben in the shade.
Yet the British beach volleyball team managed just that yesterday as they played a game against the backdrop of the Houses of Parliament.
Zara Dampney, who was joined by teammates Shauna Mullin, Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton, said it was ‘great fun’ to play in such an iconic location.
And with the temperature climbing rapidly on one of the hottest days of the year, it was also just the right weather to show off their head-turning sports gear.
Sporting stars: Members of Great Britain women's Beach Volleyball team (L-R) Denise Johns, Lucy Boulton, Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney
The early-morning match was a stunt to remind drivers that the London 2012 Olympics will cause major disruption on the roads - as there will be an extra 1,000 games-related vehicles travelling every hour.
Beach volleyball will be held at Horse Guards Parade this summer, with 5,000 tons of sand shipped in for the players to compete on.
Tickets for the sport were among the fastest to sell out, despite it being little-played in the UK.
The British team usually trains in the warmer climes of California and Tenerife but were able to take advantage of this week’s homegrown heatwave for their Parliament Square exhibition.
The stunt was aimed at reminding commuters that roads are likely to be busier at peak times during the 2012 Games
The event was held not only to indicate the effect on traffic but also to help launch Transport for London’s (TfL) online planning tool entitled Temporary Road Changes.
Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s surface transport chief operating officer, said: 'We are doing everything we can to make sure people are aware of, and can comply with, the changes that will be made to London’s roads during the Games.
'Roads in central London and around venues will be exceptionally busy during the Games. Our Temporary Road Changes tool means roads users can see where there will be changes to the road network, allowing them to plan ahead.
'Our advice is to avoid driving in central London and around the Olympic Route Network (ORN) and venues or, if journeys are absolutely essential, to plan ahead and allow extra time.'
Signs along the roads and public information campaigns before and during the Games will ensure roads users have all the information they need to comply with the changes.
Parking or stopping on the Olympic Route Network will be restricted.
A penalty charge of £130 will be issued to owners of vehicles who break these regulations during the Games and any illegally parked vehicle will be removed to a pound.
Larissa Franca and Juliana Felisberta of Brazil clinched a gold medal as beach volleyball returned to Beijing for the first time since the 2008 Olympics as teams went head-to-head in the FIVB Swatch World Tour
Beach Volleyball made its Olympic debut at Atlanta 1996 and has since become one of the most popular spectator sports at the Games.
This year it will be played between July 28 and August 12 at a special temporary arena on Horse Guards Parade.
Shauna Mullin and her partner Zara Dampney, ranked 34th in the world, and Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton, ranked 50th are Britain’s women’s beach volleyball Olympic hopefuls.
At least one team (pair) is guaranteed a place, but whether both make it won’t be known until next month.
The United States has won five of the eight Olympic gold medals since the sport’s introduction.
Beach Volleyball made its Olympic debut at Atlanta 1996 and has since become one of the most popular spectator sports at the Games