One of the great Canadian sports stories of the year continued yesterday in Vienna and I’m not sure enough of you have heard enough about it.
Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, who will surely be in line for the 2019 Canadian Team Of The Year thing when it comes time to be handed out, continued their run through the beach volleyball world by winning the $ 600,000 A1 Major Vienna tournament.
Who are these women?
Well, earlier this year they won the world championship in Germany, a first for a Canadian duo, and then won the Edmonton tour stop last month.
That’s dang good and since they’ve already qualified themselves for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it’s time you got a bit more familiar with them, I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll make some noise at the Games when tons more people will be clamouring to see them.
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My friend, The Czarina, handles all the volleyball info us Canadians need – indoor and outdoor, men and women – and I know the sport doesn’t get nearly the attention of so many others, what Pavan and Humana-Paredes are doing really is unprecedented.
Pavan, one of the top indoor players in the country at one time, switched to the beach version with an eye on an Olympic medal; Humana-Parades’s dad, Hernan Humana, coached the Canadian men to a beach volleyball medal in the sport’s debut at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics so the sport is basically in her blood.
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I covered that 1996 medal for the People’s Wire Service when beach volleyball first came into vogue and I’ve been on the periphery of it ever since. Originally, I think it was seen solely as a bastardization of the six-person indoor game but over the years, it’s more than become a mainstream, mass participation sport with a vastly different skill set than the traditional game.
I kind of see three-on-three basketball like the beach volleyball of that sport, to be honest; something odd at the moment that will gain popularity and become just as big a fixture in the sport eventually. And if the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s a fan, you might want to be, too.
Oh yeah, among my vast beach volleyball chronicling career, I’ve covered Olympic events at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Horse Guards Parade in London, Copacabana in Rio so that’s been fun.
End o’ digression. Back to the outstanding Canadian women.
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What they’ve done is impressive and a first and I guess one of the reasons we’re talking about it here is that they – and the highly-ranked Canadian duo of Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson – are the kind of athletes who often fall under the radar and that’s too bad.
They, like so many other Olympians, toil in non-mainstream sports for personal gratification and to challenge themselves and to help set an example for others to follow, if they can get their message and accomplishments out among the general populace.
And when they do something special, it’s worth noting; it’s also worth noting when they just go about their business for the love of the game. And with the Olympics less than a year away, it’s time to start stockpiling athletes to learn about.
Everyone did pretty well on the mail but a lot of it was because we chatted a bit about the Blue Jays during the week. That’s okay because I’d rather do non-basketball stuff there and the wrestling question was a lot of fun.
So expand your horizons and since I’m only here Monday-Wednesday-Friday this week again (I need to coast a bit for at least a couple more weeks, I hope you all understand) here’s a reminder to get into this coming Sunday’s mail by clicking on firstname.lastname@example.org and letting loose.
A question for later today:
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What’s the traditional celebration of John Graves Simcoe look like? It is, after all, his day.
I don’t care what you say and I know what it means in the grand scheme of things but the Fisher guy taking the routine fly ball – and sun be damned, it was routine – off the chops while the Sanchez guy was in the middle of throwing six innings of a combined no-hitter was Peak 2019 Blue Jays, wasn’t it?
I will say this, though: This Bo Bichette kid’s got a chance and it’s going to be fun to see how he handles the rest of this season, a second run through the opposition and the weighty expectations that will be placed on him.
All right. I have no idea who we’ll see when we arrive at the first Canada men’s practice later today at the Raptors facility and I guess that’s part of the fun of covering this group, in a strange way.
Yesterday’s offering – and the suggestion that those who are bailing on a long-term commitment are cheating themselves – is certainly part of the story but once we get past that, there is one big question:
Can this team, and we honestly have no clue whatsoever right now who might be on it, be good enough to make some noise at the World Cup? And by make noise, I think the goal needs solely to be top seven and qualify automatically for the 2020 Olympics because a World Cup medal seems, to me, farfetched.
It’s not going to be easy, if it was they would have done it at least once in the last 20 years, and the focus starting today has to be on who is there, not who isn’t, and how they can handle the FIBA game, tougher and rougher and shorter and more scrambled and hectic than the kind you’re use to watching.
Who is on the team isn’t going to be apparent for at least a couple of weeks and not before they get to Australia and play some top notch competition to see who works well with who and what kind of game they want to play.
Fans, and you are a passionate lot, I will say that, will be quick to jump to assumption about what the “best” Canadian team of this crop of talent will look like but patience is a key, it’s not going be known until they are far out of our sight.