O’Gorman: I’ll do whatever – I’ll move across the country
CALGARY, Canada, September 29, 2020 - The 2017 season was an
awfully strange one for Canadian men’s beach volleyball. While
the women, between Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson, and
Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan, were taking over not
just North America, but the world, the men were in a state of,
perhaps not confusion, but slight disarray.
The three most successful partnerships of the 2016 quadrennial –
Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk, Grant O’Gorman and Sam Pedlow, Sam
Schachter and Josh Binstock – had all split for various reasons.
Schalk was switching federations, to the United States, where he
lives with his wife, Lane Carico, and daughter. Schachter and
Pedlow decided to join forces and become a team of Sams.
It left Saxton, O’Gorman, Michael Plantinga, and Aaron Nusbaum
to figure it out before the qualifying for Tokyo 2020 began in
O’Gorman, a 1.89m defender with his future somewhat in his
hands, did what anybody would do, really.
“I begged him,” he said.
By “him” he means Saxton, the 2.01m blocker who lived on the
opposite side of the country. Didn’t matter. It would be worth
“I think Ben is the best blocker Canada has ever had,” O’Gorman
said. “I thought it was a no brainer to see how it goes, see if
I was up to that level.”
Saxton, however, wasn’t going to move. O’Gorman had no issue
with it. He packed up his bags and moved across the continent,
to Calgary, far from the federation’s training centre in
“With Grant, I’ve always been a Western Canadian guy, which is
different than most of the Canadian players on tour, who are
from the east side of the country,” said Saxton, who has been
playing full time on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour since
2011. “I wanted to be a little closer to my home and Grant
offered to come out and do that with me. He uprooted his whole
life to play with me which was great. I knew the motivation was
there and he’d work hard.”
It took exactly one tournament for that hard work to pay off: a
gold medal at the Sydney 2-star in November of 2017 was the
debut of the new partnership. It was the first gold of either
player’s career on the World Tour, and the first male gold for
the Canadian federation since 2014, when Schachter and Binstock
beat the Grimalt cousins in an Open in Parana, Argentina.
“I told him ‘I’ll do whatever. I’ll move across the country,’”
O’Gorman said. “He said ‘Yeah let’s give it a shot.’ We played a
tournament in Australia and we won it and that’s how it
An auspicious start for what has proven to be an auspicious
partnership, in far more areas of life than simply on the beach.
It was in Calgary that O’Gorman met his fiancée, Isabela Lima.
Now they’re launching a YouTube channel together, documenting
O’Gorman’s hilarious learning curve with Portuguese – it is
Lima’s native language – as well as his battle with testicular
He’s clear of the cancer now, O’Gorman. Surgery proved to be
effective for the cancer, which was identified in April and
operated on in May. He and Saxton are now ambassadors for
Movember, the whimsical yet incredibly successful men’s health
“It was a scary time, a lot of uncertainty,” O’Gorman said. “It
was a sad moment but it’s something I think will motivate me in
the future. I have something more to play for, not just myself
anymore, and I think I can do a lot of good with it.”
They’re taking it year by year, these two. As the whole world
has learned this year: things can change, totally and
completely, in an instant. So he takes it tournament by
tournament, year by year, not looking ahead to the quad or
points or rankings.
“For me, it’s always how well can I do this year? If I can be
good every year, eventually we’ll make the Olympics. It was ‘How
can I have the best season?’” Saxton said. “After 2012, when I
didn’t qualify, was more of a mental shift than after making it.
It helped things because Chaim and I got quite a bit better
focusing year by year rather than an entire quad.”
They are currently the second-ranked team in Canada, behind
Schachter and Pedlow. But they’ve only played nine of the
minimum 12 events needed to qualify for Tokyo. There’s room to
make the jump, and plenty of time to do so, should there be a
somewhat normal 2021 season ahead.
Not bad for a partnership that began with a little begging, and
the biggest move of O’Gorman’s life.
“It has been,” he said. “One of the best decisions I’ve ever