Oldershaw continues a family tradition in Olympic canoes

The 2008 Summer Olympics are set to begin in Beijingand a number of athletes representing Canada have roots in the Hamilton area.

Mark Oldershaw
Olympic event: Men’s C-1 500m
Birthdate: Feb.7, 1983
Residence: Burlington.
Club: Burloak Canoe Club
Coach: Scott Oldershaw

Mark Oldershaw’s success on the water truly runs in the family. One needs to look no farther than his coach, Scott Oldershaw, his father. Scott paddled at the 1984 Olympic Games, and is now a national team coach whose other athletes include van Koeverden. Mark’s grandfather, Bert, competed at three Olympic Games in a row (1948, 1952, 1956) in canoe-kayak. Finally, Mark’s uncle, Dean Oldershaw, paddled at the 1972 and 1976 Games.

Mark will compete in canoe this summer, and is a definite medal threat. He grew up paddling with Adam van Koeverden at the Burloak Canoe Club, each making the other better through a friendly rivalry. Later, when van Koeverden started generating buzz, Oldershaw wasn’t talked about as much – but his story is just as interesting. In 2001, Oldershaw broke through at the Junior World Championships in Brazil with a double-gold performance on the water. For this, he was named Canada’s Junior Male Athlete of the Year. Soon after, Oldershaw’s promising future nearly came to an abrupt halt.

He suffered tremendous pain in his left hand for nearly two years before doctors diagnosed a tumour (benign) in the hand. He had his first surgery in 2003 and battled for a spot on the 2004 Olympic team wearing a brace, but narrowly missed the cut. The pain returned and Oldershaw decided to go forward with a second surgery – despite the risks – so that he could continue paddling. The second surgery was in 2005. Two years later he finished second overall in single canoe standing and finished fifth in the C-1 500m at the World Championships. His coach and father has said that Oldershaw could have been right where van Koeverden is now had he not injured his hand.