FIVB World Championships

FIVB World Championships: Melissa Humana-Paredes, Sarah Pavan Clinch First Canadian World Championship


A little more than a year ago, three months prior to the start of the 2020 Olympic qualification period, the mission for Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan was simple: Get your finishes.

Points for Olympic qualification are based on the 12 best finishes in the year and a half of international events leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Games. Both Humana-Paredes and Pavan had been in Hamburg in 2016, the final qualification event leading into Rio of 2016. They saw saw the do or die matches.

They wanted no part of them.

“It was crazy to watch in Hamburg, which was literally right before Rio,” Humana-Paredes said last June on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter. “Some games were do or die. If they won it, they were going. If they lost, they weren’t going. It was insane. So emotional.”

On Saturday afternoon, at the same site of those wild emotions, she experienced them in a different way, when Humana-Paredes and Pavan upset Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman to win gold at the World Championships, 23-21, 23-21.

“Every failure has led to this moment, nobody sees the tough moments, they only see the good,” Pavan said afterwards. “We were the first Canadian team to win a Major; the first Canadian team to win the first Commonwealth Games; and now we’re the first Canadian team ever to win a World Championship medal.

“We’re proud of the history we’re making but it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. We’re committed to each other, we’ve ground through the tough times and these times of adversity makes this moment even sweeter, knowing all the crap that we’ve been through.”

It has been a journey, yes, one that began with a loss in a country quota in Toronto of 2016 and has now culminated to a victory on the sport’s biggest stage in a non-Olympic year.  

“It’s a dream. It’s indescribable,” Humana-Paredes said. “The things we have overcome this week, last week, this year, in the last two years, three years and now we’re world champions, I have no words. I think someone will need to wake me up from a dream. It’s unbelievable.”

It is but a start, a momentous victory on an Olympic path that adds a staggering 1,600 points to their Tokyo campaign. For reference’s sake, the 1,600 points in Hamburg are a hair below the total of their three first 2019 events combined, which include a fourth in a four-star in Yangzhou, a second at the Las Vegas four-star, and a fifth at the Xiamen four-star.

It was finishes they were after at the beginning of this race, and it’s one heck of a finish, a 1,600-point finish, a confidence-boosting finish, they got in Hamburg.

“I think locking in your twelve events as soon as possible is very important,” Pavan said last June. “Then you can make your adjustments and drop the ones that you need to.”

Rest assured, there’s at least one in the now-seven events they’ve played that won’t be dropped. It’s the dream that Humana-Paredes described that will help beget other dreams, Olympic dreams.

Tokyo dreams.