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Gord Perrin returns home in hopes of leading Canadian volleyball back to Olympics

A nine-hour drive through southern B.C. many years ago set Gord Perrin on his path to the Canadian national volleyball team.

Now, just over nine years after his debut, Perrin is back where it all started.

The 30-year-old from Creston, B.C., is captain of Canada’s volleyball team. In 2016, he helped Canada reach its first Olympic men’s volleyball appearance since 1992. Perrin’s squad placed fifth at the Rio Games and while there are no moral victories in sports, that quarter-final exit came close.

Still, even modest success leads to increased expectations, and the obvious next step is an Olympic podium at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

But Canada must first earn its spot there, which is why Perrin finds himself back in Vancouver alongside his national teammates in a must-win scenario.

Canada, ranked seventh internationally, faces a last-opportunity Olympic qualifier, from which only the triumph will head to Tokyo.

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Canada kicks things off versus 21st-ranked Mexico on Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET, before taking on Cuba (No. 18) on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET and wrapping up the three-game tournament versus Puerto Rico (No. 24) on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

“Coming to Vancouver it’s really a full circle because I haven’t been back playing since the start of my career,” said Perrin. “So it’s pretty cool.”

The last event Perrin played in Vancouver was a NORCECA tournament in 2013. But it was that nine-hour journey from Creston, near the U.S. border in the B.C. interior when Perrin was 15 that once determined whether volleyball was viable for him in the first place.

“It was really frightening for me because it was like my first time being away from my family and being away from my friends in the summer,” Perrin said. Despite that challenge, he was chosen to the B.C. provincial team, which became the springboard to where he finds himself today.

On home soil and ranked well ahead of any of its competitors, Canada enters as the favourite to win. But it’s still just a three-day round-robin event which puts any team one bad set away from having to endure another four-year Olympic cycle.

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