Six Team Canada beach volleyball players ready to serve it up at Paris 2024

Three beach volleyball duos will hit the sand for Team Canada at Paris 2024, playing on a court constructed at the foot of France’s most iconic structure–the Eiffel Tower.

The contingent includes two women’s teams – Melissa Humana-Paredes & Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley & Sophie Bukovec – as well as one men’s team – Sam Schachter & Daniel Dearing. 

It will be a second Olympic appearance for both Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson, but their first together as a team. Wilkerson competed at Tokyo 2020 with Heather Bansley, making it to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Humana-Paredes competed alongside Sarah Pavan, also making it to the quarterfinals.

When Bansley retired, Wilkerson was in need of a new partner, teaming up first with Sophie Bukovec. But then, as fate would have it, Wilkerson’s former York University teammate Humana-Paredes was looking for a partner. 

Two athletes in burgundy jackets wear silver medals around their necks and smile
Brandie Wilkerson and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada win the silver medal in the Women’s Team Beach Volleyball finals during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Friday, October 27, 2023. Photo by Darren Calabrese/COC

Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson made their debut as a duo on the Beach Pro Tour in February 2023 and quickly demonstrated their chemistry, earning their first Elite 16 gold medal on home sand in Montreal in July. Together they served as Team Canada’s flag bearers for the Opening Ceremony of the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games, where they ended up winning the silver medal.

In 2024, they posted runner-up finishes at Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 events in Doha and Ostrava. That helped them climb to fourth-place in the FIVB World Rankings, which secured their qualification for Paris 2024.  

“It’s finally here! We have been preparing and looking forward to this moment since we embarked on this journey together less than two years ago. When we got together, our goals were clear: making history in Paris,” said Humana- Paredes.  “As a new team (formed just two months before Olympic qualification began), we didn’t have much time before needing to execute in order to get Olympic points. We knew what the team was capable of and quickly we made our presence known, meeting our standards every chance we got.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of our family and friends, but mostly to our chosen family and the team behind the team.”

Then, as luck would have it, Bansley came out of retirement in 2023 and teamed up with Bukovec. After reaching the podium in two Beach Pro Tour Challenge events in 2024, they entered the NORCECA Olympic Beach Volleyball Qualification Tournament ranked 24th in the world but proceeded to go 6-0, never dropping a set en route to the victory that secured their Olympic spot. 

Canadian beach volleyball player Heather Bansley plays the ball against Ana Gallay and Fernanda Pereyra during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. Photo by Darren Calabrese/COC

“I have been taking a moment to enjoy this big accomplishment of qualifying for my third Olympic Games and Sophie’s first, but know that there is still lots of hard work to do ahead in preparation for Paris,” said Bansley.  “We set a goal of trying to qualify for Paris together 11 months ago, which we knew was going to be extremely challenging and a little bit crazy, but also doable.”

Bukovec said: “I am extremely excited and honoured to be representing Canada at the Paris Olympic Games. It has been a very fast and intense qualification period for Heather and I, as we started a little bit behind having only been playing together for 11 months. When we committed to each other, we knew it was an uphill battle and that it would be one of the most challenging things we do, but our team had full confidence that we could make that dream a reality!”

It wasn’t only Bansley and Bukovec that fought their way to a spotless record at the last chance qualification tournament–Schachter and Dearing equally rose to the occasion. Like their counterparts in the women’s tournament, Schachter and Dearing entered ranked 24th and went 6-0 to secure the Olympic qualification. There was only one Olympic spot available per gender at the tournament and Canada snagged them both.

This is a second Olympic Games for Schachter, who competed at Rio 2016. He and Dearing partnered up in 2022 and won silver at the Commonwealth Games that summer. Dearing will make his Olympic debut, as will Bukovec.

Photo credit: Volleyball Canada

“I am incredibly grateful to be returning to the Olympics for the second time, especially after just missing out on qualifying for Tokyo. I have a renewed appreciation for how difficult it is to have the opportunity to represent your country at the Olympics,” said Schachter. “We are so proud to be able to compete in Paris, but certainly could not have done it without every member of our team and people supporting us throughout this process.”

The beach volleyball tournaments at Paris 2024 will take place at the Eiffel Tower Stadium for almost the duration of the Games, from July 27 to August 10.

Canada’s lone Olympic medal in beach volleyball came in the sport’s debut at Atlanta 1996 where John Child and Mark Heese took bronze. 

Beach Volleyball Players at Paris 2024

Melissa Humana-Paredes (Toronto, Ont.)
Brandie Wilkerson (Toronto, Ont.)
Heather Bansley (Waterdown, Ont.)
Sophie Bukovec (Toronto, Ont.)
Samuel Schachter (Richmond Hill, Ont.)
Daniel Dearing (Toronto, Ont.)