Heather Bans­ley

The Hamilton Spectator - - ROAD TO RIO 2016 -

TEAM: Beach vol­ley­ball BORN: Sept. 13, 1987 SCHOOL: Wa­ter­down Dis­trict High School, Univer­sity of Toronto

BANS­LEY WAS A FIVETIME On­tario univer­sity al­ls­tar, two-time all-Cana­dian and On­tario player of the year and also led the na­tion in kills and aces and points-per-set when she played for the Var­sity Blues.

At the sug­ges­tion of her coach Kris­tine Drac­kich, Bans­ley be­gan evolv­ing into a beach vol­ley­ball player in the sum­mer of 2007, three years be­fore she grad­u­ated from U of T.

She started com­pet­ing full­time on the elite FIVB Beach Vol­ley­ball World Tour in 2010 and, part­ner­ing with Liz Maloney, won two of the three matches over Mex­ico to land Canada a women’s-team berth for the Lon­don 2012 Olympics.

But she and Maloney were forced to play a one-match win­ner-take-berth event, which they lost to Que­bec’s An­nie Martin and MarieAn­drée Les­sard.

That, ac­cord­ing to her Olympic team bio, left her de­ter­mined to never leave qual­i­fy­ing to chance again.

Bans­ley teamed with Sarah Pa­van, from Kitch­ener, af­ter Maloney’s re­tire­ment due to a knee in­jury in 2013. De­spite the short time to­gether, they are Canada’s top team and stand fifth in Olympic rank­ings.

They en­joyed a su­perb 2015 sea­son, with their first World Tour podium fin­ish (sec­ond) at Prague and be­came the first Cana­dian women’s team to win an FIVB Ma­jor Se­ries medal with a sil­ver in Porec, Croa­tia.

Bans­ley com­pleted the sea­son as the top scorer in Ma­jor Se­ries events and she and Pa­van fin­ished fifth at the world cham­pi­onship, the best-ever by a Cana­dian pair. This sea­son Bans­ley and Pa­van have won a bronze at the Moscow Grand Slam and sil­ver again at Porec.

Canada has qual­i­fied the max­i­mum two women’s and two men’s teams, for the first time since the ul­tra-pop­u­lar sport de­buted at the 1996 Olympic Games in At­lanta. Bans­ley and Pa­van are con­sid­ered medal con­tenders.

“When we are play­ing to our po­ten­tial, we are up there with the best teams in the world,” Bans­ley told the CBC.

Heather Bans­ley: Medal ahead?

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