Canada’s Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter won the gold medal at the US$150,000 FIVB Parana Open. Binstock and Schachter, both of Richmond Hill, Ont., swept Chile’s fourth-seeded Esteban Grimalt and Marco Grimalt in straight sets, 21-14, 21-12 in 36 minutes in the final match on Sunday.
The victory gave Canada its second men’s gold medal in the history of the FIVB World Tour, and first since July 7, 1996, when John Child and Mark Heese won Canada’s first FIVB gold medal in Berlin by defeating Brazil’s Para Ferreira and Guilherme Marques.
“We are obviously ecstatic about our performance and result here in Argentina. It’s our first gold medal and we hope there are more to come in the future,” said Binstock, a 2012 Olympian. “Sam and I feel we are getting better with each event we play, as it was only our sixth FIVB World Tour event together. We have come a long way since we started played with each other just over a year ago, but feel there is still much improvement to make, and view this accomplishment as a stepping stone goal towards our ultimate goals of standing on the Pan Am and Olympic podiums. I feel very fortunate to be playing with Sam as we complement each other well and are able to adapt our style of game while being resilient.”
Before this weekend, Binstock and Schachter’s top result on the tour was a fourth place finish in the FIVB Sao Paulo Grand Slam this year. Binstock finished in 17th place in the 2012 London Olympic Games; and Schachter had teamed with Garrett May to win the 2010 FIVB U-21 World Championship in Alanya, Turkey.
This was not the only medal for Canada, the tournament’s top-seeded pair, Chaim Schalk and Ben Saxton, both Albertans, bounced back from their tough three-set semi-final loss to the Chileans earlier Sunday to defeat Germany’s fifth-seeded Thomas Kaczmark and Sebastian Fuchs, 21-15, 21-10 in 33 minutes.
“Earning a bronze medal at the Parana Open was big for us,” said Schalk, who is originally from Red Deer. “After losing an extremely close semi, it was great to take control of the bronze game from start to finish. All year we have been progressing and we know that we can be a medal threat at any tournament - we proved that here in Argentina.”
This marked the first time in the history of the FIVB World Tour that Canada earned two men’s medals in the same FIVB event. “We are proud and honoured to make history with Chaim and Ben with it being the first time ever on the FIVB tour that two Canadian teams stood on the podium together,” said Binstock.
The gold medal match was dominated by the Canadians. Much like the last two sets of their semi-final victory over the Germans, Binstock and Schachter, seeded second at this event, overwhelmed Chile’s Grimalt cousins.
“We have been playing well lately and improving throughout the season, so although the result may be a surprise to fans outside of our IST (integrated support team), we are beginning to expect ourselves to perform at this level more consistently,” explained Sam Schachter. “It is time for us to now look forward to our last couple events of the year. Next up we have Qatar, which is another FIVB open, and then immediately after that we go to Trinidad and Tobago for the final event of our Continental Tour - the NORCECA Championships.”
Gold medal winning teams in each gender in FIVB Parana Open split $11,000, silver received $8,000, bronze medalists picked up $6,000 and the fourth place finishers will earned $4,500 of the $150,000 total purse.
Canada had four men’s teams in Argentina, two of them won their respective pools, one was second and the other third as all advanced to the elimination rounds. Combined in pool play, Schalk and Saxton, 16th-seeded Garrett May and Maverick Hatch, Binstock and Schachter and eighth-seeded Grant O’Gorman and Sam Pedlow had an impressive combined 9-3 match record in pool play. On Saturday, the Canadian tandems compiled a 5-2 record. On Sunday with two teams in the final four, the Canadians went 3-1 to give them an impressive 17-6 overall combined record in the tournament.
The top finishing Canadian women’s team was Jamie Broder of Victoria, B.C., and Kristina Valjas of Toronto, Ont., who finished an impressive fifth. Kacie MacTavish and Caleigh Whitaker of Sharon, Ont., cracked the top 10, at ninth; while Victoria Altomare and Julie Gordon and Claudia Seguin and Brandie Wilkerson finished in 17th position.
With the grand slam portion of 10 events on the 2014 FIVB World Tour complete, the tour continues through December with two more FIVB Open events left. Remaining on the 2014 calendar are one double-gender FIVB Open event along with one male-only FIVB Open tournament.
Story from the Volleyball Canada Website | Volleyball.ca
Photo Credit: Josh Binstock