FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championship

Press release

Canadians and Belgians dream of second chances in Sochi


Grant O'Gorman (left) and Sam Pedlow are in Sochi to claim the second Olympic ticket for Canada

Sochi, Russia, July 6, 2016 – It’s all about second chances and opportunities this week in Sochi. In the Russian Black Sea resort nineteen countries, ten in the men’s and nine in the women’s, fight for the four remaining berths, two per gender, for the Rio Olympic Games.

One of the countries participating at the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification is Canada, who’s eyeing a second Olympic ticket as Chaim Schalk and Ben Saxton already qualified through the FIVB World Tour Olympic ranking.

At the NORCECA Continental Cup final two weeks ago Josh Binstock & Sam Schachter and Sam Pedlow & Grant O’Gorman missed out on a second olympic spot for Canada by losing the final to Cuba. But by finishing second they earned a second, but this time final, chance to qualify.

In Sochi the Canadians were off to a flying start on Wednesday in pool A with a clean 2-0 victory over Venezuela, who also finished second at the CSV Continental Cup final at the end of June.

Binstock, who is the only Canadian in this team who competed at the Olympics before (17th at the 2012 Olympic Games with Martin Reader), and Schachter defeated the Youth Olympics silver medallists Rolando ‘Peter’ Hernandez and Jose ‘Tigrito’ Gomez 21-19, 21-14. Pedlow and O’Gorman beat Jesus Villafane and Jackson Henriquez 21-10, 21-19 in the second match.

“The first set we opened up a big lead and we carried it through”, said O’Gorman. “In the second set they challenged us well with good hits and blocking. The difference was the serving at the end for us. We threw a couple of sky balls in and Sam dominated at the net. It was a perfect plan.”

The Canadians had no difficulty regrouping after losing the very tight final to Cuba at the NORCECA Olympic qualifying event just a few days ago, Pedlow said.

“No, I think it was part of the process. We understood we had an opportunity. And if we didn’t grab that opportunity we had to refocus with our coach for a week of training and come down here, where we have another opportunity this week to qualify.”

O’Gorman added: “And they (Cuba) played very well, Good for them!” Another country eyeing the ‘last opportunity’ tickets to Rio is Belgium. Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle had no problems against Juan Revuelta and Ricardo Galindo from Mexico (21-13, 21-9) and Bob Douwen and Aljosa Urnaut defeated the silver medallists of the FIVB U21 World Championships, Jose Luis Rubio and Josue Gaston Gaxiola, 21-17, 21-12.

A remarkable win for Urnaut, who was summoned at the last moment to partner up with Douwen as a replacement for Robin Adriaensen, who played with Douwen at the CEV Continental Cup final in Stavanger. Urnaut: “I was in Croatia on holiday when I got the call last Tuesday. But I said, why not, so here I am. I just got back from vacation.”

Unlike Koekelkoren and Van Walle, Douwen and Urnaut are not beach professionals. Both play volleyball and their only beach experience is on the Belgium tour. But they are more than willing to help their fellow countrymen to the Olympics, Urnaut said.

So the tall blocker was very pleased with their first win on Wednesday. “It was not easy though. It was very hot and it had also been a while since I touched a ball, maybe three weeks. And it was the first time I ever played with Bob as well. But hey, we won smoothly, so I think it’s ok.”

The Belgians booked another win, as Sierra Leone forfeited, and are now leading pool B. Pool play continues on Thursday with best-of-three matches. The pool winners advance to the semifinals, the numbers two and three battle for the other two semifinal spots.

The winners of the semifinals earn a ticket for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It is up to the country federation to decide which team is going to Rio de Janeiro. For Belgium it’s clear, Koekelkoren and Van Walle, Canada stages a play-off on July 16 to decide who’s on the Olympic team.

Quick links:

FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification - Website
Men - Results/Schedule
Women - Results/Schedule


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