By David Gold

Aetna  Team GB 26-04-12 April 26 - Great Britain's Olympic beach volleyball squad have agreed a partnership with Aetna, making the health benefits company the squad's first major commercial sponsor.

Team GB are currently busy preparing for this summer's tournament, which will take place at Horse Guards Parade in Westminster, which is due to start on Saturday July 28.

The agreement is a coup for Aetna, with beach volleyball set to be one of the most popular sports this summer.

Team GB's kits will carry the Aetna logo (pictured below) during their training and qualifying for the Games as well under the terms of the agreement.

Aetna logo to appear on Team GB volleyball kit
This summer is only the second time that Britain will have competed in the Olympic beach volleyball, after Atlanta 1996, the first time the sport was on the Games programme.

Britain has two places, one each for men and women, as the host nation, but their hopes are mainly set on being competitive at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The deal with Aetna is a particular boost for the men's squad, whose funding was cut in 2010, along with that of the indoor women's team.

David Healy, general manager of Europe for Aetna International, said: "We're proud to offer our support to Team GB as they seek to use London 2012 as a launch pad to grow interest and participation in beach volleyball.

"As an organisation, we are committed to empowering people to live healthier lives through the provision of both insurance and health management services.

"This partnership is the perfect fit for us, given the fact that volleyball is a sport that can be played by almost anyone, yet it also demands its competing athletes maintain the highest levels of health, nutrition and fitness."

Richard Callicott, President of the British Volleyball Federation, said: "This significant sponsorship with Aetna is wonderfully welcome as an opportunity to intensify our preparations and continuing efforts to both qualify and perform at the London 2012 Games.

"It gives us particular pleasure to work with a leading company in the global health care industry, given the emphasis of our sport on activity, strength, fitness and high-quality athleticism, in addition to well-being and fun."

Morph Bowes (pictured below), the GB head coach, also welcomed the news as the squads take part in the International Beach Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Swatch World Beach Tour, which began last week.

Morph Bowes - Team GB coach
London 2012's beach volleyball tournament is also breaking with the usual tradition where female players compete in bikinis, with competitors allowed a wider range of more modest clothing for those teams who represent countries with more conservative attitudes to the way they dress.

The United States won both men's and women's gold in beach volleyball in 2008.

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