Photographs of a four-year-old Melissa Humana-Paredes holding an Olympic medal are early clues what route her life would take.
Her father, Hernan Humana, coached Canadians John Baby and Mark Heese to bronze in Atlanta in 1996 when seashore volleyball made its Olympic debut, and coached the duo once more in 2000 in Sydney, Australia.
Melissa knew from an early age what the pursuit of athletic excellence demanded.
“I keep in mind my dad was gone rather a lot travelling on the world tour, and attempting to qualify for the Olympics, after which he was gone for the Olympics,” she mentioned. “He gave my brother and I a map and put pushpins in all of the totally different nations that he was going to be in.
“Each week he would journey to a brand new nation, we’d connect a string from every push pin so we might observe alongside on his journey to the Olympics.
“That is when it actually hit me what travelling and chasing this Olympic dream meant.”
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The 28-year-old from Toronto hopes to shut the circle with an Olympic medal, and maybe of a extra valuable metallic than the one she wore round her neck as a baby.
‘My dad will nonetheless at all times be my coach’
“I did not understand how a lot all these experiences have been going to affect her and affect her,” Hernan Humana mentioned. “It has been fairly dramatic.”
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Hernan, who additionally coached York College’s ladies’s volleyball crew for a decade, was his daughter’s first coach and oversaw her indoor and seashore groups till she was 17.
“My dad will nonetheless at all times be my coach,” Melissa mentioned. “He is aware of what it takes to get to the Olympics. He is at all times been round and been super-helpful.”
Mechanically some issues I spent hours and hours instructing different youngsters to do, I might toss a ball to her, and she or he would do it immediately.— Hernan Humana on his daughter’s intelligence and keenness for volleyball at a younger age
Hernan performed for the Chilean males’s indoor volleyball crew and Melissa’s mom Myriam was a dancer.
Regardless of that lineage, Melissa did not stand out when it comes to bodily items to play seashore volleyball, her father mentioned.
However she confirmed each sport intelligence and keenness for volleyball at an early age.
“She was not tall; she was not bodily sturdy. In reality, if something, she was skinny and brief,” Hernan recalled.
“She did some issues that have been uncommon. Mechanically some issues I spent hours and hours instructing different youngsters to do, I might toss a ball to her, and she or he would do it immediately.
“If there was one cue, perhaps that was the cue to inform me there was one thing particular about her.”
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Melissa mentioned her father did not stress her or her brother Felipe, who additionally performed on the world seashore tour, into volleyball.
However the siblings spent a whole lot of time round seashore courts shagging balls for Baby and Heese, and favored what Hernan was conducting there.
“I used to be concerned in a whole lot of sports activities, however seashore volleyball was my calling,” Melissa mentioned. “I knew that at a really younger age. I used to be at all times across the seashore at his practices and seeing how he labored. It was very intriguing to me.
Wrote e-book about life, volleyball experiences
“As a result of I grew up as my dad’s daughter, I used to be uncovered to this Olympic journey. It was a part of my upbringing and my childhood. Olympics was simply a part of our household discussions.
“I additionally knew the sacrifices that needed to be made, the sacrifices my dad made.”
Hernan emigrated to Canada in 1980. He joined his household who had fled brutal Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet 5 years earlier.
Hernan wrote a e-book about his experiences titled Taking part in Underneath the Gun.
“I used to be a national-team participant representing that nation and it was not straightforward,” he mentioned.
“As [Melissa] has realized from the tales from her mother and from me, she has mentioned ‘wow, my mother and father sacrificed a lot so I can have these alternatives, I’ve to make use of them.’ Not a lot as a weight on her shoulders, however as a lifting alternative.
“She’s such a considerate toddler in that sense. She hasn’t forgotten who has been instrumental in serving to her get the place she is.”
Sacrifice, in pursuit of Olympic glory, is value it, says his daughter.
“I do not take it flippantly, representing Canada and sporting the Maple Leaf,” she mentioned.