2016-07-21 18:31:00 CET
There is no better time for Canadian success in beach volleyball
Beach volleyball legend Mark Heese has challenged the four Canadian Olympic-bound teams to bring home a medal from Rio to show off at the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals following the announcement that Toronto will host the prestigious event in September.
Heese and John Child won a bronze medal at the Atlanta Games in 1996 – the first Olympics to feature beach volleyball – and rushed home to play in their home city to celebrate their achievement at an event in Toronto.
And now he believes this is the perfect opportunity for the Canadian class of 2016 to follow in their footsteps.
“We came home and missed the closing ceremony after winning an Olympic medal just so we could play in front of the crazy Canadian fans,” Heese said at Thursday’s press conference to unveil Toronto as the host city for this summer’s Finals. “To come home and play in front of those fans having won a medal was very special – it was the best feeling in the world.
“It was a big moment for this country’s beach volleyball but the time has now come 20 years later for Canada to do it again.
“We’re due for an upgrade of a medal and we’ve got the teams to do it. All they need to do is to believe they have what it takes to win medals.”
One of those teams, Saxton/Schalk, who will play at the A1 Klagenfurt Major next week before heading to Rio, said: “Beach volleyball is growing so much in Canada and it’s great that we will be able to take it home and celebrate that with our fans and our family and friends. It’s going to be special.”
The last word went to Mark Eckert, President of the Canadian Volleyball Federation.
He said: “2011 was the last time there was a beach volleyball event in Canada, in Quebec City. Toronto had a World Tour event 16 years ago – that’s too long ago.
“We are one of four countries in the world that have qualified four teams for the Olympic Games. Beach volleyball is growing in this country. We are a world leader and now our athletes are the top athletes. We are up there with the Netherlands, USA and Brazil.
“People will have the opportunity to celebrate medals and performances in Rio and then come back here and compete on the FIVB World Tour. You will see how they’ve grown the sport in this country and you will be amazed by the quality of this sport.”
You can watch today’s press conference back by visiting our official Facebook page.