Olympics-Beach Volleyball-Canada stroll into last-16, China, Brazil follow suit

TOKYO (Reuters) - The Canadian medal contenders Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes continued their unbeaten run in the women's Olympic beach volleyball with a sovereign win against the Swiss duo Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre and advanced to the last 16 as the pool winners on.
Switzerland, which also progressed after second place in Pool A, saved four match points, but could not overcome Canada's superior blocking skills in Shiokaze Park.
The reigning world champions Pavan and Humana-Paredes are chasing Canada's first Olympic beach volleyball gold in Tokyo and are enjoying their role as tournament favorites.
"I don't think it's adding any pressure," said Pavan. "We've been very transparent about our goals and objectives since day one, and that hasn't changed."
The Chinese Wang Fan and Xia Xinyi also collected the maximum number of points from Pool C to advance.
Brazil finished second behind China, with 2015 world champion Agatha Bednarczuk and former youth Olympic champion Duda beating Canadian duo Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson 21-18 21-18.
Bansley and Wilkerson can either qualify as one of the two best third-placed finishers or through the lucky loser playoffs.
Kelly Claes, 25, and Sarah Sponcil, 24 - with the aim of becoming the youngest Olympic champions at the event - beat Kenyan duo Gaudencia Makokha and Brackcides Khadambi 21-8 21-6 in Pool D.
The American couple, who spent their time off the sand doing musical parodies for their fans on social media, didn't skip a beat as they drove to victory in 25 minutes to find themselves within reach of qualifying for the co- Move phase.
"We did so many cool things through our music videos that started because we were bored along the way," said Sponcil. "I think a lot of people can connect with it ... it's just fun and I hope it's relatable."
In the men’s category, Rio 2016 champions Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Filho from Brazil won Pool D after beating the Dutch duo Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, who also qualified second, with 21:14, 24:22 had prevailed.
The Czech Ondrej Perusic, whose Olympic campaign had started sourly after a positive test for COVID-19, returned from isolation to take his country's first victory in the tournament alongside his teammate David Schweiner.
The pair got off to a sluggish start, defeating Mexico's Josue Gaxiola and Jose Camargo 17-21 21-16 16-14, keeping their Pool B qualifying bid alive.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Toby Davis)
In this article:
Games in Tokyo
Sarah Pavan
Canadian volleyball and beach volleyball player
Melissa Humana-Paredes
Canadian beach volleyball player

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