The Canadian team of Martin Reader (Comox) and Josh Binstock (Toronto) will have their work cut out for them Wednesday at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England when they meet world No. 3 Brazil in their final preliminary round match of the men’s beach volleyball competition.
The Canadian duo got things off to a great start on Saturday (July 28), defeating Great Britain 21-19, 21-13 then lost 21-14, 21-18 to Norway on Monday (July 30).
Heading into Wednesday’s showdown with Brazil (Pedro Cunha and Ricardo Santos), Canada has a 1-1 record in Pool F. The 24 pairs are split equally into six pools, playing each team in their group, with the top two advancing to the knockout first-round stage along with the two best third-place teams.
The remaining four third-place teams will then compete in playoff matches to determine which pairs will fill the final two places in the first round.
Television (TSN, CTV) coverage of the Canada-Brazil match will air at 12 p.m. PDT “We played them before,” Binstock said of the Brazilians. “We lost a tight one in three. So we know that they’re beatable. There’s no lack of confidence here after (Monday’s loss).”
Later on Monday, Brazil (2-0) defeated Great Britain (0-2) 21,17, 21-12 to advance to the knockout stage. The British duo must win their final Pool F match against Norway on Wednesday and hope other results go their way if they are to avoid elimination. Brazil opened Saturday with a 21-14, 21-18 victory over Norway.
On Monday, not even Reader’s game-best 85 km/h serve could get the Canadians past Martin Spinnangr and Tarjei Viken Skarlund of Norway. “We didn’t play the way we wanted to and found it difficult to play the ball,” Binstock told the media after the match. “We get in trouble when we don’t take care of the ball on our side.”
Reader and Binstock served a lesson to British pair John Garcia-Thompson and Steven Grotowski with a 21-19, 21-13 victory to open the men’s beach volleyball tournament. The first set was close all the way, however the Canadians almost always had the lead. The British only held 1-0, 11-10 and 14-13 leads. The rest of the set was tied or Binstock and Reader were ahead.
The set finished in spectacular fashion when an 18-play rally, the longest of the entire match, was capped by a smash by Reader which went off the hand of Garcia-Thompson.
‘’Winning the first set gave us a lot of momentum and was the turning point in the match,’’ said Reader. ‘’It was exhausting but we are proud of our performance.’’
The second set was much different as Canada’s service game completely baffled the British pair. Consecutive aces by Reader and another by Binstock a few plays later put Canada up for good at 7-2.
Binstock finished with one ace, 11 kills and 12 digs while Reader contributed five aces, 14 kills, one block and nine digs.
“We started how we wanted, but we needed to generate some more pressure on the serves,’’ said Grotowski. ‘’We missed a few chances at the end of the first set and that enabled Canada to take the set.”
Binstock felt a bit bad to disappoint the home crowd.
“It’s hard because they are great people and we like them as friends,’’ he said. ‘’It can help to creative motivation when you don’t like your opponents, but that was not the case. They are stand-up class acts and we didn’t like disappointing their home-country fans, but we really appreciated all the support from all the Canadians who were in the crowd.”
“Josh’s buddies [came] with hockey sticks and helmets and whatnot. My family [including dad Norman and mom Patrisha from Comox] is here, and that is all that matters for me — that my family is here,” the 28-year-old Reader, a six-foot-seven Highland Secondary graduate, added.
“We want to get out of our pool, then hopefully top 10, and then get on the podium,” said Binstock, who only teamed up with Reader this year.
GAMES NOTES Reader (“This is the moment you dream of being part of one day. Marching in the opening is what you picture and it’s the highlight of my life!”) and Binstock (“Pretty spectacular and unfathomable!”) were part of the Canadian contingent at the opening ceremonies … the beach volleyball venue is the 15,000-seat Horse Guards Parade … 48 athletes who are either from or train on Vancouver Island comprise about 15 per cent of the 277-athlete Canadian team in London …