Creston’s Gord Perrin (2) on the Canadian team in an Olympic qualifier game.

Creston’s Gord Perrin (2) on the Canadian team in an Olympic qualifier game.

Creston Valley’s Gord Perrin leads Team Canada to victory

Web Lead

  • Jun. 8, 2016 3:00 p.m.

Creston will have a homegrown competitor in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August when Gord Perrin steps onto the court.

A Prince Charles Secondary School graduate, Perrin has helped put Canada back in the Olympic volleyball competition, leading his team to a hard fought five-set victory over China on Sunday at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

Canada needed the win over China, combined with a Polish victory over Australia, to secure a place in the Olympics. Perrin led all Canadian scorers with 27 points in the final to help secure the win, which ended a drought that extends back to 1992 for Canadian Olympic volleyball participation.

Born and raised in Creston to parents Dave and Ruth, Perrin starred in high school volleyball before going on to a successful stint at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. He played professional volleyball in Turkey for several years before joining an Italian club last winter. He has signed a contract to play in Poland, a volleyball superpower, next season, turning down an offer to play in China to do so.

With no recent history of Olympic participation, Canada went into last week’s qualifying tournament knowing it had just one last chance to move on to the Rio Games. The tight schedule meant playing some best-of-five matches within 24 hours of each other.

“Gord said he was really tired going into the weekend matches, but he wanted to get to the Olympics so badly,” said a beaming Dave. “And he played really well — he was absolutely brutal and calculating with all of his shots.

“They really gelled as a Canadian team,” said the proud father, who said his days have been pretty much a blur after watching late-night telecasts from Japan for a week.

It all came down to a final match against China on Sunday, with Canada carrying a 3-3 record and needing a win to stay in the running. Even with a win, the team would have to wait helplessly until learning that Poland had beaten Australia.

Dave said Perrin’s winter in Italy has helped round out his game. With three teammates who have Olympic experience, including a 46-year-old who has three Olympic Games on his resume, Perrin worked on other aspects of his own game.

“He improved a lot in his back court game,” Dave said. “The team didn’t win much in the regular season, but they really kicked it up a notch in the playoffs. That’s where experience counts.”

After winning the first set against China on Sunday, mistakes cost Canada the next two sets. Another loss and Olympic hopes would be dashed. But with Perrin continuing to score, the Canadians poured on the pressure and won the fourth set 25-20 and cruised to a 15-9 victory in the fifth and final set.

The 2016 Olympics will be a family event for the Perrins.

“How often is your son going to the Olympics?” Dave laughed.

He will be attending, and Perrin’s mother, Ruth, has similar plans. Also making the trip will be Perrin’s sister, Alicia, and brother, Marshall. Alicia has been watching her brother’s odyssey from Poland, where she is playing in a tournament with the Canadian women’s volleyball team. Marshall will take time off from his work as a firefighter in Grande Prairie, Alta. He also has a modeling career and has more than 300,000 followers on Instagram.

“They are not going there just to participate,” Dave said of the Canadian team. “They are an underdog, but they are going there to win. They have a new feeling of confidence.”

Dave will be sending the Advance regular reports from Rio de Janeiro, which will be posted on Facebook as they are received.