2018-11-12 09:00:00 CET
Coming from a career-year, the Canadians will work twice as hard to keep up with their results next season
What a season Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley had in 2018.
The Canadians, who joined forces at the end of 2016, closed the year with back-to-back World Tour titles at the four-star event in Las Vegas and the three-star tournament in Chetumal and have already entered off-season mode – but they won’t lose sight of next year.
The 2018 season first became special to Brandie and Heather in May, when they claimed their first medal together, a bronze in Itapema. After that, five more were to come, including their first gold, in Warsaw, and their first Beach Major Series medal, a bronze in Gstaad.
The year ended with the duo at the top of the world rankings and both players earning individual awards – Heather was selected as the World Tour’s best defensive player for the third time in the last four seasons while Brandie took home the best blocker prize.
“We’re really pleased to finish the season this way,” Heather said. “We’re very happy about how we’ve played, especially at the end of the year. We’ve put in a lot of hard work and we stuck together as a team, including our coach Lennard (Krapp), since we started working with him in May. All of us are really invested and we believe in one another and I think that’s a real strength of ours and it really helped us to get where we are right now.”
BACK TO BACK GOLD 🥇🙌🏽🇨🇦 Yup, nailed that pose. 🙃😂 * * * Thank you Chetumal for making the last tournament of our season soo fun. We were surrounded by love and happiness all week, we are honoured to leave here as champions. CONGRATS to all our fellow Canadians that competed and to the medalists 🙏🏽💕 #oro #goldmedal #champs #teamcanada #grind #bestforlast #fivb #chetumal #chetumal3star #vamos #teamswirl
2,659 Likes, 107 Comments - Brandie Wilkerson (@bvuilleumier) on Instagram: "BACK TO BACK GOLD 🥇🙌🏽🇨🇦 Yup, nailed that pose. 🙃😂 * * * Thank you Chetumal for making the last..."
Their breakout year preceded what should be the most important season for the team as not only Olympic qualification will continue in 2019, but the year will also have the World Championships taking place in Hamburg.
Heather and Brandie definitely want to carry their good momentum to the next season and they know exactly how to do that – it’s just about repeating the 2018 successful formula, but putting up an extra load of work.
“It should be similar to what made us have continued success throughout the year,” Brandie explained. “We had a taste of our first medal in Itapema and to end the season with some golds, it was about setting the standards and beating them and doing it again and again.”
“We know it’s harder to stay consistent when you get to the top and we realize that there’s a huge challenge ahead of us. I don’t think for a moment that we feel relaxed about it, so we’re going to put twice as much work to make sure next year is also successful.”
Their ultimate goal is to qualifying to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It would be Heather’s return to the Games after finishing fifth at Rio in 2016 and Brandie’s first-ever Olympic appearance.
“Tokyo is our long-term goal, that’s what we’ve been working every day for,” Brandie added. “But we know it’s going to take every tournament at a time, every game at a time, every day with our coaches and with each other just working on things and making sure we’re coming fresh and ready to go.”
This tournament has meant so more than a bronze #rosegold medal 🥉 while I'm extremely proud of this accomplishment it has become even more about how this experience has brought our partnership, our team - coach and IST, our countrymen and even my family closer than ever 🙏🏽❤️ THAT I am overwhelming grateful for. Thanks for the memories Gstaad!🇨🇭and way to killllll the podium Team Canada! 🇨🇦💪🏽 #gstaadmajor #beachvolleyball #fivb #majorseries #teamcanada #bigteam
1,951 Likes, 42 Comments - Brandie Wilkerson (@bvuilleumier) on Instagram: "This tournament has meant so more than a bronze #rosegold medal 🥉 while I'm extremely proud of this..."
Before they get back to the sand, however, the Canadians are looking forward to make the most of their long-waited off-season. And they will do it in different ways.
While the 31-year-old Heather is excited about having recently adopted a puppy, the 26-year-old Brandie cannot wait to finally furnish her new apartment and to move into it.
“We’re excited to be back home with our friends and families and enjoy and just be proud of everything we’ve accomplished,” Brandie added. “We need to enjoy the off-season.”
Enjoy, ladies! You've earned it.