If you are reading this you likely love volleyball. If you are Canadian then there has never been a better time to be a fan of this sport for the Olympics. With two women’s beach teams and one men’s beach team pre-qualified and with our men’s indoor team now in, we are better represented than ever. To top it off, we are still in pursuit of a second berth for men's beach through the World Cup. This is very exciting and unchartered qualification territory.
From 1996 in Atlanta through Beijing in 2008, the 24 Olympic berths for beach volleyball comprised of 22 top FIVB ranked teams plus a host berth and wildcard. Then for the 2012 London Games, the FIVB wanted to make Beach Volleyball more accessible by reducing top FIVB ranking berths to 16 teams. Seven berths would become available through a new continental qualification process. To achieve this they created Five direct Continental Cup berths and two World Cup berths in the spirit of growing the sport and empowering nations to play beach volleyball around the globe. This year one of the top FIVB spots was removed in favour of a bid for the World Champions.
This new process has created some new and exciting tournaments and has made the Olympic dream far more accessible. It is because of the Continental Cup that in 2012 Josh Binstock and I qualified for the games. Now, for the 2016 games, our two Canadian men’s teams of Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter (CAN1) and Sam Pedlow and Grant O’Gorman (CAN2) are in Sochi to pursue the last two Olympic berths through the last chance World Cup qualifier.
Sochi will be an incredibly demanding tournament with life long Olympic dreams on the line. Every nation present will have two highly competitive teams but our men are up to the challenge. They are pioneering unchartered territory for Canada as we have never taken part in the World Cup tournament nor have we ever challenged to have two teams per gender in a major games.
From not having a single team in the 2008 Olympics to now threatening the podium in both genders, beach volleyball is becoming a strong component of Canadian Olympic athletics. We are in the midst of a massive step forward for our sport in Canada and every win takes us into new beginnings.
Good luck to our men in Sochi and to our 3 teams: Heather Bansley & Sarah Pavan, Jamie Broder & Kristina Valjas and Chaim Schalk & Ben Saxton for their outstanding pre-qualification.
Go Canada! 🇨🇦