Melissa Humana-Paredes and I are starting our second beach volleyball season together and we couldn’t be more excited to start competing and representing Canada internationally. We got off to an amazing start in ‘2017! After earning a silver medal in our first-ever event together in Rio, we went on to appear in the semi-finals of 7 out of 8 events played, winning GOLD in the Poreč Major, silver in Poland, and bronze in Switzerland. We ended 2017 as the #2-ranked women’s beach volleyball team in the world.
Coming into 2018, we are ready to build on the foundation we laid in 2017 and our goals have gotten even bigger. We want to win more tournaments and undoubtedly establish ourselves as one of the top gold-medal contenders for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Mel and I are #Canadians based out of Los Angeles for our training. The weather is great (maintaining practise on the beach from September to May is amazing) and a lot of top international teams come down to train in the off-season, so there are a great variety of training partners available to us. We practice on the sand for 2 hours every weekday, and spend another 2 hours doing strength and conditioning training those same days. It is so important to build our strength and technical skills during this time. Beach volleyball is a gruelling sport, both physically and mentally, so we push ourselves to the limit during the preseason so that we feel strong and confident each time we step on the court in competition.
#Soreness and muscle fatigue are inevitable with the amount of training we do and the intensity of our exercise amplifies everything we may feel. Anytime either of us started to get muscle stiffness/soreness, or if we started feeling pain, we used SpiderTech’s #therapeutic #kinesiology tape on the affected area. Putting the tape on dry skin before applying our sunscreen allows the tape to stay on all day, even when we are sweating and getting dirty in the sand. In the case of muscle soreness, I got into the habit of putting the tape on overnight. It did not restrict my range of motion and after a few minutes I forgot it was there.
We had our first taste of competition at the Fort Lauderdale Major Series event at the end of February, and as always, it was awesome to be out on the court competing again!! Oddly enough, we ended up in a pool where 3 of the 4 teams were from Canada. It’s always a bummer to have to play our countrymen, but we won all of those group games to finish first in our pool. After advancing through the playoffs, we ended up finishing the tournament in 5th place, losing a very close match to an American pair in the quarterfinals. The scores were 20-22, 23-25.
5th is definitely not a result to be ashamed of, but we were so disappointed with it. We expect more from ourselves and we know that we can be better. We didn’t play poorly by any means, but the Americans really raised their level against us, and we didn’t respond in the way we usually do. It was a tough lesson to learn, and it’s always hard to reflect on something like that after the fact, but I’m glad that we went through that at this point in the Olympic cycle instead of in a do-or-die moment like the Olympic finals. Fort Lauderdale was a good measuring stick for the start of the 2018 season, and it was nice to get a tournament under our belts before heading to the Commonwealth Games.
The next step in our 2018 journey is the #Commonwealth Games in Australia (April 4-15, 2018) and you can be sure that I already have my stockpile of SpiderTech tape in my suitcase! You can watch our matches on Canada’s traditional cable and broadcast TV providers. Plus, new for this year, DAZN Canada – which is an online streaming service – will be broadcasting the entire Commonwealth Games. It is always an honour to represent Canada, and this is magnified even more at a multi-sport games like the Commonwealth. Our goal is to win GOLD, and we are so thankful to have such strong support.