Lessard holding court her way

In its fifth Olympic appearance, Beach Volleyball will again be a no-doubt fan attraction in London in 2012. For Canadian Olympic hopeful Marie-Andree Lessard of Montreal, Que., playing for world-wide fans seeking an eye-pleasing display of ultimate athletic ability is OK with her.

After all, Olympic success for Lessard is not about how it looks or obsessing about the end result. It’s about being completely devoted to doing the work to get there — in every aspect of life.

“It’s not always about what actions I can do better,” said the 34-year-old chasing a ticket to London with partner Annie Martin, 30, of Sherbrooke, Que. “It’s more about knowing who I can be in that moment.”

One of those moments for Lessard and Martin, a 2004 Olympian, will come at the Continental Cup tournament at the end of June. If they win, Canada will get a spot on the plane to London and the battle for who gets to go begins.

The Canadian pair of Heather Bansley and Liz Maloney of Toronto is currently ranked higher in the world standings. Lessard and Martin, however, have an edge on all their competitors: a size advantage.

“Annie and I are both the smallest players on the world tour,” said Lessard proudly. “This makes us unique on the world stage. It really lets us bring out the idea of being our best, not just the killer instinct. People are starting to notice we are owning our performance.”

To achieve this, Lessard and Martin share a philosophy in their approach — a balance, a complete energy. It’s something Lessard says the pair is building on at all times to produce an exceptional performance on the sand when it matters most.

“We’re trying to be present in everything we do,” said Lessard. “We’re trying to make an environment where each decision counts.

At the heart of those decisions right now is an Olympic ticket for Canada in beach volleyball. Thankfully that ticket is purchased in the currency of passion for excellence, something Lessard has plenty of.