Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan are back at their usual haunt: the court on 26th street in Hermosa Beach, California, the one closest to the water. It’s a breezy day, and the rallies with Kelly Reeves and Terese Cannon are long – when there is one at all. Humana-Paredes’ jump serve is on. She’ll ace one, two, sometimes three in a row.
Their coach, Scott Davenport, watches behind shades and a stoically soft smile.
“Scott!” Humana-Paredes yells. “Did you see that?”
He laughs. He saw it, yes. They were great serves, difficult to pass even on a still day. But the goal is not necessarily to ace one, two, three in a row in late January and early February. The goal isn’t to win or medal in anything until late summer -those would be nice, but not the ultimate for 2021.
The goal is the Tokyo Olympics.
Humana-Paredes and Pavan are in an enviable position, in that they, technically speaking, do not really have to travel or compete or bear the stress that most every other beach volleyball team in the world will have to this year. A year-and-a-half ago, Humana-Paredes and Pavan won their first World Championship – and a first for Canada – guaranteeing them a slot in the Tokyo Olympics. It puts them in the company of Russians Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy as the only teams who you will 100 per cent see in the Olympic Games, when they happen.
This story is the first in our Tokyo Tracker series, which will take a look at every team in Olympic contention and break down what they will need to do to qualify for the Olympic Games. Humana-Paredes and Pavan, and Stoyanovskiy and Krasilnikov, are locks for the Games, since they’ve already qualified via winning World Champs, so we grouped them together.
They don’t need the Olympic qualifying points, and their time might be better served not traveling across the planet, training, lifting, getting the focused reps with Davenport to regain the lost time that was 2020.
Humana-Paredes, Pavan, Stoyanovskiy and Krasilnikov, however, are registered for Doha. Norway’s Anders Mol, on the other hand, is not (Christian Sorum will line up with Svein Solhaug). We will discuss Mol and Sorum in a later story, but they are, mathematically speaking, locks to qualify for Tokyo, even if their ticket hasn’t yet been punched. There is no real need for them to travel this early in the year, either, especially with Mol nursing some knee issues that were bothering him throughout 2020 (they won their third consecutive European Championship anyway).
While the rest of the teams around the world are busy making travel arrangements, preparing for country quotas, hopping on planes, Humana-Paredes and Pavan can remain at home in Hermosa Beach, if they so chose, making sure Davenport sees their progress.
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour