SANTIAGO, Chile, October 20, 2023.- The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) announced that beach volleyball partners Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson will be Team Canada’s flag bearers for the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games Opening Ceremony.
In the first year of their partnership, Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson are one of the top women’s beach volleyball teams in the world – currently fifth in the FIVB World Rankings. The duo, who were former indoor volleyball teammates at York University, began competing together professionally on the Beach Pro Tour in February. While Humana-Paredes is making her return to the Pan Am Games after debuting in her hometown at Toronto 2015, Wilkerson will be competing at her first Pan Ams in Santiago.
These will be a special Games for Humana-Paredes, whose parents are Chilean. Both women aim to be a positive force on and off the court. Humana-Paredes has been a member of the Panam Sports Athlete Commission since 2019 and Wilkerson is the co-founder of Project Worthy, a scholarship program aimed at increasing BIPOC representation in volleyball.
Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson both made their Olympic debuts at Tokyo 2020 with their former partners. Both pairs finished fifth, matching Canada’s best-ever Olympic result in women’s beach volleyball.
Canada has not won a Pan Am Games medal in beach volleyball since 1999. In the sport’s debut at the Pan Ams, Jody Holden and Conrad Leinemann won gold in the men’s event on home sand in Winnipeg.
The beach volleyball tournaments at Santiago 2023 take place October 21 to 27 (Days 1 to 7) at the Parque Peñalolen. Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson will open play October 21 against Uruguay.
“I’m extremely excited and honoured to have this role, to share my story as well as the story of my sport and federation. Honestly I’m just overjoyed. I’ve never experienced an Opening Ceremony before so to be able to do this, and with the person I’d want to do it with the most, is exciting. I’m so extremely proud to be Canadian!”
– Brandie Wilkerson, Team Canada Santiago 2023 Opening Ceremony flag bearer
“This is something that as an athlete you want to do one day and you hope you have the privilege of doing. The fact that I can do it in Chile, which is where my family is from, and that my family will be able to witness it, is extremely meaningful. At multi-sport events like this, I think it’s so important to share stories and to be models of different representations and different body types and different sports and different backgrounds and how we all come together and are united here as one. It gives you a lot of perspective and reminds you of why you’re doing this, and the power of sport. We’ve been part of Team Canada a couple of times, and every time it’s extra special to feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself.”
– Melissa Humana-Paredes, Team Canada Santiago 2023 Opening Ceremony flag bearer
“When we decide who will carry the Canadian flag at the Pan American Games, we look not only to athletes’ sporting achievements, but the values they demonstrate and their impact on others. Brandie and Melissa are both incredible athletes and inspirational role models. The way they carry themselves both on and off the field of play makes them the perfect choice for this role. I can’t wait to follow them into the Estadio Nacional as they proudly lead the way for Team Canada in the Opening Ceremony.”
– Christine Girard, Team Canada’s Santiago 2023 Chef de Mission
“These incredible athletes are leaders in all that they do. From their great synergy on the court to their devotion off the field of play as leaders in their community, Brandie and Melissa truly reflect what our delegation stands for. To see them now get to share this experience as teammates will make it all the more special.”