TORONTO (July 5, 2021) – Volleyball Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced Canada’s beach volleyball team nominated to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The team of Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes qualified for Tokyo 2020 after winning the 2019 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Hamburg, Germany. They defeated a team from the U.S. for gold and the coveted ticket to Tokyo. The team is entering the Games in the number one position in the FIVB Olympic rankings.
The team of Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson qualified for the Games based on FIVB ranking points gathered between September 1, 2018 and June 13, 2021 at eligible Beach World Tour events.
Both teams have been playing together since 2017 and are currently in Switzerland for a final pre-Games World Tour event, which begins July 6 in Gstaad.
“We are so excited to finally be in the home stretch to Tokyo,” said Pavan. “We have had the privilege of knowing that we qualified for Tokyo since 2019, but to actually be on our way after so much adversity and uncertainty is an indescribable feeling. We can’t wait to step on the court in Tokyo, wearing the maple leaf with pride and knowing that we have a whole country standing behind us and cheering for us every step of the way.”
“We set goals for our team that kept us focused and for us it was to achieve the number-one Olympic ranking,” added Humana-Paredes. “Amidst everything and all the uncertainty over the last year and a half, I’m proud of the team for pushing through and achieving it. Heading into the final stretch is both exciting and nerve-wracking! It’s finally here and we’re feeling good heading in the right direction.”
This will be the second Games for Bansley, who competed in 2016. “I’m extremely honoured and excited to be representing Canada at the Olympic Games again,” said Bansley. “It has been a long qualification period, and this past year has been extremely challenging as a Canadian athlete, but I’m really proud of all the hard work that Brandie, (coach) Rico and I have put into our team. We have done everything we can to prepare ourselves to be in the best possible form for Tokyo, and I’m excited for us to go to Tokyo and perform our best for Canada.”
“I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that this moment has finally come,” added Wilkerson. “With the challenges and uncertainty this extended qualifying period presented, I’m so proud of the work and strength our team has shown. Now it’s time to bring the world together for a moment of true inspiration and show what Canadian beach volleyball is all about, and I can’t wait.”
Canada’s only Olympic beach volleyball medal came at Atlanta 1996 when John Child and Mark Heese defeated Portugal to claim bronze. The highest finish by a Canadian women’s team is the fifth place by Guylaine Dumont and Annie Martin at Athens 2004, which was matched by Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley at Rio 2016.
“Both teams have worked extremely hard over the last several years to establish themselves among the top in the world. We’re looking forward to seeing them represent Canada in Tokyo after a challenging year,” said Ed Drakich, Volleyball Canada High Performance Director (Beach). “We know they are well-prepared for the Olympic stage thanks to the hard work of many behind the scenes.”
The beach volleyball competition will take place July 24 to August 7 (Days 1 to 15) at Shiokaze Park.
“There is volleyball that you see played at your local beach and then there is Olympic Beach Volleyball,” said Team Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission, Marnie McBean. “These athletes are deceptively powerful and incredibly agile. It’s so impressive that a country that has such a deep winter is a powerhouse on the hot sand!”
The athletes and coaches nominated are:
Melissa Humana-Paredes (Toronto, Ont.)
Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, Ont.)
Heather Bansley (Waterdown, Ont.)
Brandie Wilkerson (Toronto, Ont.)
Ricardo de Freitas (Rio de Janeiro , Brazil) – Team Coach for Bansley and Wilkerson
Rodrigo dos Santos (Rio de Janeiro , Brazil) – Coach
Adam Schulz (St. Catharines, Ont.) – Team Coach for Humana-Paredes & Pavan
Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organisations.
Story and photo: Canadian Olympic Committee