Canadian beach volleyball teams qualify for Paris

TLAXCALA CITY — Canada struck gold in men's and women's beach volleyball on Sunday — along with some continental participant passes to the 2024 Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The men's and women's teams claimed top spot in the NORCECA Beach Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico.

Heather Bansley of Waterdown, Ont., and Sophie Bukovec of Toronto, who have been playing together for just under a year, were undefeated in the tournament and won the women’s gold.

In Sunday's final, Bansley and Bukovec beat Atenas Gutierrez and Susana Torres of Mexico 2-0 (21-16, 21-17).

This will be Bansley’s third Olympics (2016, 2020), but now with new playing partner and first-timer Bukovec.

“I’m just really proud. We came here with the goal of qualifying for Paris and we accomplished just that,” said Bansley.

“It’s been a crazy 11 months for our team and it’s incredible that we were able to qualify. I’m so proud of Sophie. … If you asked me a year ago if we would be here, it was probably a crazy dream. It’s incredible."

Samuel Schachter of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Daniel Dearing of Toronto defeated Mexico’s Juan Virgen and Ricardo Galindo 2-0 (21-13, 21-13) in Sunday's gold-medal final.

“We played with a lot of joy today, I actually enjoyed the game,” said Schachter. “We were in the moment. … This was a team win, and we had so much support.

"Today, we were really able to focus on the right things and were able to manage the moment. I can’t wait to represent our country.” Schachter previously played in 2016 in Rio with then-beach partner Josh Binstock. Though Dearing will be an Olympic newcomer, he is a Commonwealth Games silver medallist with Schachter. Three beach teams are now qualified for Canada. Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson had already secured a berth via their solid position in the women's World Rankings. The beach teams will be officially part of Team Canada when nominated and announced by the Canadian Olympic Committee (official team announcement still to come).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press