Jay Blankenau will be representing the red and white at this year's 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
This is Blankenau's second time at the Olympic Games; he was a member of the national men's volleyball team that placed fifth at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio.
The 31-year-old Sherwood Park native began playing volleyball at a young age, without realizing that Canada even had a national team. He played on teams and clubs throughout his school career, playing for Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary before competing professionally at numerous international events.
While Blankenau's first Olympic games were filled with events, hoards of friends, families and supporters cheering on Team Canada, this year's games are unlike any other.
As the pandemic continues to rage on in many parts of the world, including Japan which has seen an uptake in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, events and spectators will be dialed back significantly as athletes will essentially be playing in an Olympic-sized bubble.
"We're trying to hunt down a medal this year, so the other distractions that kind of get going in the Olympics probably won't be going on this year," he explained. "It'll be a little easier for us to stay focused."
Blankenau added he feels this year's team is strong going into the Olympics. Seven players on the team have played volleyball together for the better part of a decade, making it easy for the team to pick up on each other's playing style.
Another advantage of this year's men's team is the calibre of players selected to represent Canada in volleyball.
"We definitely have some strong players on our team; we have guys playing in top pro leagues around the world."
The first men's volleyball game will take place Friday (July 23) against Italy at 6 p.m.