MRU alumnus joins Canadian men’s volleyball Olympic team after back injury
by Riggs Zyrille Vergara, Publishing Editor
After suffering from a back injury, Mount Royal University alumnus Jay Blankenau had to sit out Canada’s first chance at the Tokyo Olympics qualification back in March 2019. But hrough surgery and rehab in August 2019, the 31-year-old snapped back to recovery and helped earn Canada’s second straight Olympic berth by winning the NORCECA Continental Qualifier in January 2020 where he even earned the Best Setter award.
But before the Olympics, Blankenau donned laurels for the Cougars when he received an All-Canadian CCAA award with the feat of leading a CCAA national championship against UBC Okanagan in the finals with 3-0 and a gold.
After competing for the Cougars from 2007-2009, Blankenau joined the University of Calgary Dinos and was named all-star during their CIS Championship in 2010. He also helped the team win the 2011 CanWest championship.
His international career started by joining the Canada Volleyball Full Time Training Centre and joining the FISU National team representing Canada where they placed fourth in 2011 and fifth in 2013 of the FISU Universiade. Working his way up, he eventually made it to the FVB World Volleyball League and in 2016, joined Team Canada for the 2016 Rio Olympics where they placed fifth place in the end.
After going pro in 2013, Blankenau has played in Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belgium and Turkey.
Canada’s men’s volleyball finally had their first win against Iran in an easy straight 3-0 with scores of 25-16, 25-20 and 25-22 in Tokyo. This is after their two losses against Italy (1-2) and Japan (1-2). Their final matches that determine their placement for the quarter-finals will be against Venezuela on July 30 and Poland on July 31.
Canada is now placed fourth in Pool A against the leading Japan, Iran in second and Poland in third.
The preliminary round stage of the men’s volleyball competition is made up of 12 countries split into two pools. Pool A consists of Canada, Iran, Japan, Poland, Venezuela and Italy while Pool B consists of the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, France and Tunisia.
The quarter-finals will consist of the top four teams from each pool which begins in Aug. 3 and ends on Aug. 7 with the gold and bronze-medal matches.