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2016-09-06 11:32:00 CEST

A new era is getting started in Toronto

Sarah Pavan found a new partner to go for Tokyo 2020

The disappointment was enormous after finishing the Olympics with the fifth place. “The hurt is real, and it's big,” Sarah Pavan from Canada said after she and Heather Bansley lost in the quarterfinals against Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, who went onto win gold.

“It was really disappointing for me losing the last match the way we did,” Heather told us. But that experience hasn’t been the reason why the two Canadians split up. “There were several reasons why we decided not to play anymore,” Sarah told us. “A big one for me is that we never won a tournament together.” Pavan/Bansley twice won silver at Poreč Major, one silver medal at the FIVB Open in Prague 2015 and three bronze medals since they teamed up in 2013.

“We are ranked top five in the World, all teams up there are consistently medaling and winning, we were very consistently ninth or fifth. I just thought that’s the right thing and maybe we are both better with other people,” Sarah says.

Heather Bansley (left) and Sarah Pavan never won a gold medal together. Credit: Dale TidyHeather Bansley (left) and Sarah Pavan never won a gold medal together. Credit: Dale Tidy

Heather Bansley is uncertain about her future

At the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals they will start with different partners and fight in a qualification match for the one spot, they initially earned together. “It’s a little bit frustrating because I think we both earned that spot,” Heather says. “We knew that we would not continue after the season together, it was Sarah’s decision not to want to play the Toronto finals with me. I think it was because it was a difficult season in terms of our relationship together. We had a lot of issues within our team and interpersonally, so she was just finished, that´s my opinion,” Heather says.

“We had kind of determined already in April that the Olympics are going to be our last tournament together, that decision was made even before the World Tour Finals were announced in Toronto,” Sarah explains. “Originally we knew that we wouldn’t play the Finals, because we didn't get enough points in the season. After the Olympics I sent the email that I am still fine with the decision to not continue and to have that be the end and Heather never disagreed or said anything about the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals.”

Now Heather is going to play with Brandie Wilkerson (24) at the Swatch World Tour Finals. She has so far no idea, what will come afterwards. “I was just committing to playing this tournament with Brandie, I don´t have made any commitment past that,” she says. “I would like to continue playing, but I just want to take some time and think of what to do.”

Sarah Pavan wants to play for another four years

Sarah, on the other hand, has a clear perspective in mind:I am planning on playing another Olympic cycle,” the 30-year-old told us. For 12 years, Sarah had tried to get to the Olympics with Canada’s national indoor volleyball team. They never succeeded – but the Olympics were the reason why the 1.96-meter big blocker switched to the sand and eventually achieved her goal. “I am so grateful to Heather for taking a risk on playing with this indoor kid back in 2013, and I wish her the best in the future,” she says.

Melissa Humada-Paredes (in the back) will go for Tokyo 2020 with Sarah Pavan Credit: Predrag Vuckovic.Melissa Humada-Paredes (in the back) will go for Tokyo 2020 with Sarah Pavan Credit: Predrag Vuckovic.

Now she wants more. “Beach has really become a love of mine – that surprises me,” she says. “I didn’t necessarily think of that will happen when I started.” Her partner for the next cycle will be Melissa Humana-Paredes, the 23-year-old Torontonian, who has earned five top-10 finishes on the FIVB World Tour this season with partner Taylor Pischke.

“I am really excited to play with her,” Sarah reveals. “She is young, reads the game very well and has a lot of potential and growth in her. Even though she is young, she has had some success already.” Melissa has also been in Rio – as she and Brandie were practice players for all Canadian teams at Copacabana. “She kind of got her feet wet there. Together we will go for Tokyo 2020,” Sarah says.

The Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto will be the opening of this new era. “It will give the Canadian people, who come to watch a little preview for a team, that they can hopefully cheer for in the coming years,” Sarah says.

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