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  • Conrad Leinemann and Jody Holden - Beach Volleyball

    Nominated by Volleyball Canada

     Conrad Leinemann and Jody Holden made history at the 1999 Pan American Games when they captured the gold medal in the first beach volleyball tournament in the Games' history.

     Victory did not come easily. Ranked fifth going into the tournament, they finished second in their pool after a tough loss to Cuba. That positioned them to face Franco Viera and Roberto Lopes of Brazil, the tournament's top-ranked team and former world champions, in the final round. Undaunted, they upset the Brazilians by a score of 15-12 and prepared to face Brazil's No. 2 team in the gold medal game.

     Playing with consummate skill and composure, Leinemann and Holden thrilled the screaming, capacity crowd and had the experts describing the contest as one of the most exciting beach volleyball matches ever played on Canadian soil. The duo's dynamic performance demonstrated that dedication, determination, and courage can reap rewards and inspire a nation.

     The victory, which Leinemann, of Kelowna, B.C., and Holden, of Shelburne, N.S., call the highlight of their careers, did not come without sacrifice. In the fierce race for an Olympic berth, the Pan American Games are not counted. In choosing to represent Canada in Winnipeg, the team was forced to pass on two qualifying events in Europe. They remain among the top 24 teams hoping to qualify for Sydney but, by their choice, slipped to 12th in their world ranking, and the slip has affected their carding status. Leinemann and Holden's historic victory and the excitement it generated make the sacrifice worthwhile.

     One of the most congenial teams on the professional tour, the pair, who have been playing together for five years, often host clinics for young players at domestic events across the country and make frequent appearances at schools and youth programs.



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