#AllezAUS 'Let's Go Australia'
Sport: Beach Volleyball
Event: Women's Beach Volleyball
Olympic History: Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020 (silver)
Year Born: 1993
State Born: Lima, Peru
Born in Peru, Mariafe and her mother migrated to Australia when she was eleven-years-old, joining her older brother and extended family. She spoke limited English and found that sport was an easy way for her to communicate. She began playing volleyball with her sister in Peru, and upon her arrival in Australia, she joined a beach volleyball club in Manly.
Her local talents were soon big news, with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) offering her a scholarship to pursue beach volleyball full time. She moved to Adelaide at 18 to train at the AIS, with an Olympic dream guiding her journey.
She made her international debut in 2007, competing for Australia at the U19 World Championships in Poland.
She made her Olympic debut as a 22-year-old in Rio, where she competed alongside Nicole Laird. The pair had been competing together for three years, but were unable to clinch a victory in the preliminary rounds. Their partnership ended shortly after, with Mariafe playing tournaments with a handful of different partners before joining forces with fellow Rio Olympian Taliqua Clancy in October 2017.
Together, they have reached the podium 21 times, including at the Commonwealth Games, Asian Women's Championship and the Osaka Open. In their first season together, the pair won the most titles ever won by a team in Australian beach volleyball history. It was with Clancy that she reached her first podium in 2012 in a tournament in Halifax, Canada.
With Taliqua Clancy, Artacho del Solar represented Australia at her debut Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018. They breezed through to the semifinals undefeated, and went on to play the final. They battled Canadian duo Humana-Paredes and Pavan, but ultimately went down 2-0, winning a silver medal.
The duo won a bronze medal at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Hamburg in July 2019, defeating Swisse due Betschart and Huberli in the bronze medal match. She did, however, injure her knee during the tournament, but battled on to see the event through. Her injury meant that the team did not compete again for another four months. The time off did not affect their team work on the sand at all, winning another title at the Glenelg Beach Open before the end of the year.
Artacho del Solar and Clancy had a remarkable Tokyo 2020 Olympic campaign, winning silver to earn Australia’s first Olympic medal in the event since Sydney 2000 and just our third medal ever in the sport.
Artacho and Clancy's campaign built throughout the two-week tournament, progressing through the pool stages with wins over Cuba and Italy before a tough 2-1 loss to Russian Olympic Committee saw them through to the round of 16 as second in their pool.
The pair lifted their intensity as the knockout stages commenced, defeating China in the round of 16 before knocking off the reigning World Champions Pavan and Humana-Paredes of Canada in a scintillating quarter-final matchup that showcased world class volleyball from both teams. The 21-15 19-21 15-12 victory highlighted the Australian’s championship pedigree.
A straight sets semi-final victory over Latvia saw them assured of Australia’s first Olympic medal in 21 years. A tough final loss (21-15 21-16) against a red-hot USA pair of Alix Klineman and April Ross saw the Australians win silver to get back on the Olympic Beach Volleyball podium for the first time in over 20 years.
Artacho del Solar said it felt surreal to win an Olympic medal after having the fire lit by Nat Cook and Kerri Pottharst decades ago.
“After Sydney 2000 my sister got a postcard from Nat and Kerri saying go for gold, chase your goals – and being the little sister I thought “you know what I’m going to do that,” she recalled.
“That lit my Olympic dream and now 20 years later I’m here on the Olympic podium, it’s unbelievable. We’ve shown so much resilience and strength to just make it to the Olympics and I’m so proud of our whole team.
“These Games were such an unforgettable experience, that had so many challenges but we showed what we are made of to come out with an Olympic medal and hopefully inspired a lot of people back home.”