Commonwealth Games: Canadian beach volleyballer adds gold to family story

Commonwealth Games: Canadian beach volleyballer adds gold to family story

Melissa Humana-Paredes
Canada's Sarah Pavan (left) and Melissa Humana-Paredes (right) pose with their gold medals after winning the women's beach volleyball final against Australia. (WILLIAM WEST/AFP)

COOLANGATTA, Australia: Her father represented Chile in volleyball, her mother was a ballet dancer and Melissa Humana-Paredes on Thursday (Apr 12) won Commonwealth Games gold in beach volleyball for Canada to add another chapter to the family story.

The 25-year-old and playing partner Sarah Pavan were the party-poopers as the Canadian pair beat Australia to deprive the hosts of double gold in the inaugural Commonwealth beach volleyball competition.

Just a couple of hours earlier, the Australian duo of Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann won the men's title against their Canadian opponents on Coolangatta Beach.

But, with the rain falling on occasions in the night sky, Australia's Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar could not pull off a similar feat.

In front of watching South African star swimmer Chad le Clos, celebrating his 26th birthday with a beer and fresh from his medal heroics in the pool, Humana-Paredes and Rio 2016 Olympian Pavan won a nervy final 21-19, 22-20.

"We just found out that this is the first gold medal for Canada in beach volleyball at any multisport Games so it's doubly special," said a beaming Humana-Paredes, her medal slung around her neck.

Volleyball runs in the blood of Toronto-born Humana-Paredes, as it does Pavan's, whose mother was in Canada's national team in the 1980s.

Humana-Paredes' volleyball-mad father Hernan represented Chile in the 1970s before fleeing to Canada, and then coached Canadians John Child and Mark Heese to Olympic bronze at Atlanta 1996 in beach volleyball.

Hernan wrote the book, "Playing Under The Gun: An Athlete's Tale of Survival in 1970s Chile", about life under the Pinochet dictatorship.

Humana-Paredes' older brother Felipe is also a member of the Canadian national beach volleyball squad, though he did not feature in Australia.

With mother Myriam once in Chile's national ballet, Humana-Paredes was probably always destined to make her mark one way or the other.

"I often say that volleyball does run through my blood," said Humana-Paredes, who started playing beach volleyball aged 12.

"I grew up loving it, I was always on beaches at a young age, I think that's why both Sarah and I have such a great volleyball 'IQ'," said Humana-Paredes, whose family were watching on TV back home in Canada.

"Sarah and I have a certain sense of the game that not everybody has, and that is probably why we are so successful.

"And what is going to continue to help us be successful is that knowledge and love for the sport that we've grown up with and had all of our lives."

Source: AFP/de