Who knew a northern country like Canada would be a force to be reckoned with in a beach sport?
It may have surprised the Halifax crowd, but they were not complaining Sunday when two Canadian teams fought for some coveted hardware in front of an enthusiastic audience.
Although the two duos were top seeds in their respective divisions, they both faltered in the third and deciding set of their match.
Toronto-based Victoria Altomare and Melissa Humana-Paredes walked away with a silver medal in the women’s division after a late surge could not muster the desired result against eighth-seeded Nina Betschart and Joana Heidrich of Switzerland. The Swiss upset the Canadians in three sets, 21-16, 14-21, 15-11.
Earlier in the afternoon, fellow No. 1 seeds and Toronto residents, Garrett May and Danny Demyanenko could not fend off pesky Brazilians, Marcus Carvalhaes and Vitor Felipe in the men’s bronze-medal match. The South American duo came from behind to hold off a late onslaught and sit on top, 21-23, 21-14, 15-13.
Understandably disheartened at their defeat, the two Canadian teams saluted the crowd after their match, drawing even louder applause from the appreciative 2,000 in attendance.
Corporate sponsorship is not out of the ordinary for a national tournament of this magnitude, but nevertheless, their in-your-face presence was overbearing.
Looking out on the boats sailing by the harbour made for a spectacular backdrop, yet its view was disappointingly congested with a ton of marketing. The beer gardens were filled with umbrellas, hawking some company. Elsewhere there were two inflatable beer bottles and an over-sized volleyball. The athletes even took timeouts huddled around a small table trumpeting another beverage.
I understand this event has to generate funds. But when an array of corporate colours distracts from the inherent beauty of playing volleyball along the waterfront, it’s frustrating.
Let’s not kid ourselves: an allure of beach volleyball has always been the athletic bodies parading the sands. Just ask those watching the sport on television about the gratuitous shots the camera always manages to find.
As the male athletes walked onto the court to receive their medals, one volunteer moved closer to the players—albeit seemingly out of earshot—and encouraged the men, jokingly, we presume, to hike up their shorts.