Beach scene set for volleyball

Toronto – There was a definite spike in Olympic enthusiasm today as men’s and women’s beach volleyball teams battled it out on the beaches of Ashbridge’s Bay in competition for right to be nominated to the Canadian Olympic Team. When the sand had settled, the women’s team of Marie-Andrée Lessard and Annie Martin, and the men’s team of Josh Binstock and Martin Reader earned their nominations for London 2012.

“The Olympic Flame was ignited in me when I saw Sylvie Bernier dive at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984, and win the gold medal,” said Marie-Andrée Lessard. “I feel that Sylvie and I have come full circle now as I have qualified for the Olympic Games in London, and Sylvie will be there as our Assistant Chef de Mission. We had a tough Olympic qualifier and a really tough playoff today, but now Annie and I are ready to soar and surprise everyone!”

“Marie-Andrée and I have been partners for four years, and there have been a lot of ups and downs in those years, but now it’s only up,” said Annie Martin. “We thank Liz and Heather for working so hard with us at the Olympic Qualifier last month in Mexico. It is because of our work together that Canada earned a spot at the Games. I wish they were coming to London too.”

“Right now, I couldn’t be more excited,” said Josh Binstock. “I played hockey originally, and used to play with lots of emotion. Today, I brought that emotion with me on the beach volleyball court and it helped me. I have to congratulate our friends Ben Saxton and Cristian Redmann, who worked with us to earn Canada’s Olympic spot at the Qualifier – we wouldn’t be going to London without them.”

“We executed our plan perfectly, our position serving, big blocks and great defense,” said Martin Reader. “But we still have a lot of work to do, now with the Olympic Games ahead of us. Today was great with so many friends and family here – we felt really supported and it helped carry us to the win. We’re used to playing in front of hostile crowds – today was very different!”

“Talk about intensity, these guys had it all on the line today and came through with flying colours,” said Mark Tewksbury, London 2012 Chef de Mission for the Canadian Olympic Team. “Yet another example of grace under fire from Canadian athletes and another reason we love sport so much.”

“It’s been a long, hard road for these two teams,” said Hugh Wong, President of Volleyball Canada. “Travelling all over the globe and playing against the best teams in the world. They clearly demonstrated that they belong in the 2012 Olympic beach volleyball tournament by dominating their competition at the Continental Qualifier last month in Mexico, and by their wins today. We know that they will represent us well at the Olympic Games.”

“We are so close to the Games now and we continue to see outstanding levels of play from our athletes,” said Marcel Aubut, President of the Canadian Olympic Committee. “It is a great pleasure to welcome these four nominees to the ranks of the Canadian Olympic Team and I wish them all the best on the final road to London.”