Canada’s Beach National Team athletes continue to make breakthroughs on the international circuit – this weekend with two silver medals at the Porec Major in Croatia.
Following the silver success of Heather Bansley (Waterdown, ON) and Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, ON) yesterday, today Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter, both of Richmond Hill, Ont., picked up silver. They fell to a Dutch team, world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, 0-2 (15-21, 13-21) in the final.
“Sam are I are ecstatic and honoured to be the first Canadian team to win a medal at a Grand Slam since 1997. It was a very character building and confidence boosting tournament for us as we had to battle through a lot of different types of adversity,” said Binstock, a 2012 Olympian. “The heat was a huge factor for a lot of teams and the fact that we were able to win matches after dropping the first set that went into extra points showed us that we have the fortitude necessary to succeed. Out of the three matches in the tournament that lasted an hour or longer, we played in three of them. The longest of those was the victory over the legendary Ricardo and Emanuel. We will now shift our focus to as we have to get back to work this week for the next tournament in Stavanger, Norway.”
The last time a Canadian team placed on the podium in a “major” FIVB men’s event was 1997 when Olympians John Child and Mark Heese claimed the bronze medal at an event in Portugal. And never have women’s and men’s team reached such heights at the same time an event of this calibre.
“Josh and Sam are gaining valuable experience and skills that you can only get in the later rounds of a FIVB World Tour event,” said Canada’s Beach National Team head coach, Steve Anderson. “This was a great performance and they are learning how to manage challenges and perform under pressure. There are many challenges and opportunities on an Olympic journey and every one of them prepares you for winning when it counts.”
Sunday’s finale was Binstock and Schachter’s third gold medal match on the FIVB World Tour. After placing fourth in Sao Paulo, the Canadians captured an “open” gold (Parana, Argentina) and silver (Doha, Qatar) medals in their final two starts in 2014. With the Porec Major, Binstock and Schachter’s 11th international event, the pair has a 37-22 match mark.
On Saturday in the women’s gold-medal match, top-seeded Larissa Franca (left) and Talita Antunes of Brazil posted a 2-1 (21-16, 25-27, 15-12) win over the 17th-seeded Bansley and Pavan, who were playing in their second FIVB World Tour finale in the past three weeks. The Canadians picked up their first silver medal earlier in the season in the Czech Republic where they lost the final to another Brazilian pair.
“It’s great to see Heather and Sarah getting medal results to start the Olympic qualification season. They have a high level of commitment and determination and it is an X-factor in their performance,” said Anderson. “It is very exciting to know that even though they are creating some good wins now, they still have a lot of room to improve their performance and results in the future. This is their first full-time FIVB season, and I believe that they will only get better with experience and time.”
Other Canadian teams also had solid showings – the women’s team of Jamie Broder (Victoria, BC) and Kristina Valjas (Toronto, ON) finished fourth, and Albertans Chaim Schalk and Ben Saxton secured a fifth ranking. Fellow Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes and Taylor Pischke finished 17th.
“It requires patience, fortitude and above all else hunger to build world’s best performance. I have much respect for all of the Canadian athletes for taking on this challenge. Congratulations to our 2015 medallist and well done to the entire Canadian team,” said Anderson.
Story and Photo from the Volleyball Canada Website | Volleyball.ca