There were 48 Island athletes at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. It would have been a nice round 50 if Victoria volleyball players Fred Winters and Josh Howatson had not been denied by losing to the U.S. in the Americas’ regional Olympic qualifying championship game in May 2012 at Long Beach.
Canada and the U.S. met at the Langley Events Centre Saturday for the first time since that Olympic qualifying final game.
The result was much the same as the world top-five Americans defeated Winters, Howatson and the world No. 11 Canadians 25-23, 25-20, 25-14 in the final of the 2013 NORCECA championships for supremacy of the North and Central America and Caribbean region.
“The Americans are a level, a class above us,” said Canadian team captain Winters, the graduate of the Claremont Secondary Spartans and Pepperdine of the NCAA, who first joined the Victoria Volleyball Association in Grade 9.
“We have to beat them with consistency.”
That’s what Canada will have to find a way to do if it hopes to qualify for the Olympics in men’s volleyball for the first time since Barcelona in 1992.
“They [the Americans] took our Olympic spot last year and it would [have been] nice to get some revenge,” said the six-foot-seven Howatson, a standout setter out of the Oak Bay High Barbers and Trinity Western, who first began playing at Oaklands Elementary School.
“There is always a little more to these games against the U.S. because of the cross-border rivalry,” added Howatson, who will play pro in Turkey this season while Winters returns to play pro in China.
This tournament was the first time the national volleyball team has played in B.C. since 2006, and the home-province players reveled in the rare opportunity.
“It was great to look in the crowd and see family and friends,” said Howatson, who like Winters, had a flotilla of people come over from the Island to watch them play in Langley.
© Copyright 2013