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Canada's Heather Bansley sets the ball in a women's beach volleyball quarterfinal match against Brazil at the Pan American Games in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Wednesday Oct. 19, 2011.

Ariana Cubillos/AP/Ariana Cubillos/AP

A donation from the investment management firm Sprott Asset Management has set up Canadian beach volleyballers close to the net for Olympic qualifying.

The $16,000 donation received Friday afternoon by the Canadian Athletes Now Fund boosted an emergency fundraising offer to more than $44,000. That's about 73 per cent of the $60,000 goal established Tuesday by CAN Fund founder Jane Roos. It's the biggest donation the emergency fund has received.

"That's on top of the $30,000 Sprott has already given us this year," Roos said. "Some of the male players [Martin Reader of Comox, B.C., Christian Redmann of Oro, Ont., and Maverick Hatch of Comox, B.C.]have already picked up cheques because they have to leave for the Prague tournament right away."

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Canadian beach volleyball athletes have been without the sustaining Sport Canada stipends for six months. The money has been held up by Volleyball Canada's appeal of a decision asking that a player be evaluated. Players have been paying for tickets, lodging and meals out of their own pockets.

Earlier this week, Volleyball Canada said it would provide players with interest-free loans for air travel, but some players balked at the offer, noting they'd still need to pay for meals and lodging.

The women's team of Torontonians Heather Bansley and Liz Maloney is ranked 19th in the world and can get directly into the Olympic field by getting into the top 16.

The men will probably take a different tack in their bid to make the Olympic field, winning the regional NORCECA crown. The men have three tournaments left on the Swatch World Tour – Prague this week, Moscow and Rome. The women have only the Moscow and Rome stops.

Roos said she was still working the phones for donations Friday night. A subsequent donation pushed the emergency fund to more than $48,000.

"The athletes will still probably stay in hostels, because their credit cards are maxed out," Roos said.

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James Christie written sports for the Globe on staff since 1974, covering almost all beats and interviewed the big names from Joe DiMaggio, to Muhammad Ali, to Jim Brown to Wayne Gretzky. Also covered the 10 worst years in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey history. More

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