Led by a triumvirate of reigning Olympic medalists, Canada’s canoe/kayak team is on course to make a big splash in Rio.
Adam van Koeverden (silver in the K-1 1000m), Mark Oldershaw (bronze in C-1 1000m) and Mark de Jonge (bronze in K-1 200m) all hit the podium at London 2012, and are back to compete in those events this summer, as part of the nine-athlete team being sent by Canoe Kayak Canada.
Van Koeverden, who has been training in Hungary in the lead-up to Rio, comes into this summer as one of Canada’s most decorated Summer Olympians, having won gold and bronze at Athens 2004 and silver at Beijing 2008 (at which he also served as Canada’s flag bearer). Given that Rio is likely van Koeverden’s Olympic swan song, he’ll be eager to add one more highlight to his remarkable career.
De Jonge, 32, has been on fire in his quick-sprint event in recent years, capturing gold in the K-1 200 at the 2014 and 2015 ICF World Championships and the 2015 Pan American Games.
Meanwhile Oldershaw, 33, also reached the podium at Toronto 2015, earning silver in the C-1 1000. All three of those veterans are expected to challenge for medals in Rio.
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But it’s not just Canada’s male paddlers who have a need for speed. Andréanne Langlois (K-1 200m), Émilie Fournel (K-1 500m) and the team of K.C. Fraser and Genevieve Orton (C-2 500m) are also headed to Rio in sprint events.
Fournel is the only one of the four with prior Olympic experience, having competed in Beijing and London. Langlois counts Fournel among her athletic role models, and their Olympic fates actually became intertwined this year.
Langlois earned Canada an Olympic quota spot in the K-1 200 at the Pan American Continental Qualifier in May. Fournel had won the event at national team trials earlier that month, but decided to focus on the K-1 500 in Rio, giving Langlois the chance to compete in the K-1 200 at the Games.
Rounding out Canada’s Olympic team are Michael Tayler (K-1) and Cameron Smedley (C-1), a pair of Ottawa-based paddlers competing in slalom events. Tayler is participating in his second Olympics, while Smedley’s recent performances have shown his potential to be a top-5 competitor in his discipline.
Tayler and Smedley will compete in the heats on Aug. 7, with the semifinals and finals a few days later, while the heats in the sprint events begin on Aug. 15.