Van Koeverden, Oldershaw return to Olympic waters

Canoer Mark Oldershaw speaks after being nominated to the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team at an event in Lachine, Que. on Monday. The 2008 Olympian joins his father and grandfather as Canadian Olympians. (Photo: Benoît Desjardins)

Three-time Olympic medallist Adam van Koeverden of Oakville will compete for another prize in the Men’s K1 1000 metre as he leads Team Canada’s seven sprint paddlers to this summer’s Games in London. He won the event at World Championships last year with a lead of over three seconds.

A snap shot of van Koeverden’s journey to the 2012 Games was documented and presented by the Canadian Olympic Committee in the digital short film: “The Patriot”. The initiative is a part of the Canadian Olympic Team’s Give Your Everything campaign.

van Koeverden started kayaking in 1995 at the Burloak Canoe Club in Oakville at the age of 13. Now, he’s a three-time Olympic medallist and one of the most recognizable faces of the Canadian Olympic Team at the London Games.

“Every time I line up, my goal is to put together the best performance I possibly can,” says van Koeverden. “I know that in the back of my mind, that’s usually worth a medal or a win.”

He was Canada’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where he won a silver medal in the K-1 500 metres. Four years earlier in Athens, van Koeverden captured gold in that event as well as bronze in the K-1 1,000 metres and was chosen to carry our flag at the Closing Ceremonies. His two medals in Athens earned him the Lou Marsh Award as Canada’s Male Athlete of the Year.

He has won 21 World Cup gold medals. He captured the overall World Cup title each year from 2004 through 2007. In 2007 he went undefeated on the World Cup circuit and in 2008 notched another five World Cup victories in Olympic preparation.

Outside of competition, van Koeverden is an athlete ambassador for Right To Play, a humanitarian organization that uses sport and activity to help disadvantaged youth around the world. He is a graduate of McMaster University in Kinesiology and was elected class valedictorian.

Joining van Koeverden will be his Burlington neighbor, Mark Oldershaw. He heads to his second Olympic Games with more race experience this time around. The name Oldershaw is not new to Olympic competition. He is the fifth member of the Oldershaw family to compete in canoe-kayak at the Olympic Games. His grandfather, Bert Oldershaw, competed at his first of three Olympic Games in London 1948. His father, Scott, competed in Los Angeles 1984, his uncle, Dean, competed in Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976, and his uncle, Reed, competed in Montreal 1976. Scott Oldershaw will be with Mark this year as his coach.

Oldershaw will be competing in the C-1 1000m after racing in the C1 500m in Beijing where he finished 10th. He qualified a spot for the Games after winning gold at a World Cup canoe and kayak competition in May 2012. Oldershaw also placed first in the Canadian canoe and kayak trials.

In 2011, he competed at the World Championships in Hungary and placed in the top-five and won three medals on the World Cup Circuit. In 2010 he decisively took the C-1 1,000 metre spot at the national trials and collected four medals on the World Cup circuit.

Other athletes from the Golden Horseshoe area competing in the Games include: Hamilton’s marathoner Reid Coolsaet; Burlington swimmers Scott Dickens, Sinead Russell, and Colin Russell: Oakville swimmer Tera Van Beilen; Oakville triatholoner Kyle Jones; soccer players Diana Matheson from Oakville and Melissa Tancredi from Ancaster; St. Catharines track cyclist Joseph Veloce;