LONDON 2012: Johns doesn't want to use Olympic handout
DENISE Johns might be in the box seat to be part of the London 2012 Olympics - but the beach volleyballer insists she won't be happy unless her Games berth comes on merit.
ICONIC VENUE: Denise Johns looks set to compete at Horse Guards Parade, venue for the 2012 Olympic beach volleyball, but wants to qualify on merit
As the No.1 ranked British pair Johns, with partner Lucy Boulton, look all set to be part of the Games after the British Olympic Association announced they would be taking up the host nations place for beach volleyball.
One women's and one men's pair will play automatically as a result with a second in each gender granted potential spots provided they are inside the world's top 23 when Olympic qualifying ends in June 2012.
Johns is adamant she wants to go down the latter route and with their 2011 campaign kicking off at the Brasilia Open this week she insists they are itching to hit the ground running on their London bid.
"It's great for beach volleyball to have the spot for London 2012," said Johns. "I think we have always been focused towards qualifying in our own right though and that hasn't really changed.
"It is nice and it is a boost for us but we have been working hard for the last few years and that's going to continue.
"When last season ended we only had three weeks off and then went straight out to Australia to train while the rest of the teams in the world were still resting so we have been doing a lot of hard work.
"And hopefully that will pay off and we can get into that top 16 by the end of this season. There is definitely a chance that we can do it because we have been improving every year and hopefully we'll get our spot on our own."
Despite beach volleyball achieving most of its notoriety for the skimpy outfits rather than the skills on the sand Johns and Boulton have become a well-respected pairing on the international circuit - ending last season ranked 36th.
However with the London 2012 tournament set to be played on the Queen's doorstep at Horse Guards Parade in central London the ‘sex sells' mantra surrounding the sport only looks set to continue next summer.
But Johns insists the glamorous tag often aimed at the sport is a fallacy.
"I am not sure about the sport being glamorous," added Johns. "It is a great life and there is no doubting that, I love being outdoors and we get to do that all the time.
"But the image of hot beaches all the time isn't quite right, we spend a lot of time training on cold, wet beaches and there are tournaments in Russia and Poland and lots of city centres so it's not all like people imagine."