"It's just not an issue. I refuse to talk about my tweets as news because they're not."
That was all Olympian and McMaster alum Adam van Koeverden would say about his controversial Vanier Cup tweets during a recent visit to Hamilton.
The four-time Olympic medalist, who won the silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics, was in Hamilton Monday as both guest and speaker at an alumni luncheon to celebrate McMaster University's 125th anniversary, held at Hamilton Place.
Van Koeverden's appearance in the city comes off a fairly intense weekend for the Toronto-based kayaker after his enthusiasm for his alma mater, specifically the McMaster Marauders, kicked off a mini-firestorm on Twitter.
On Friday night, during the Vanier Cup, van Koeverden posted a tweet about the Laval Rouge et Or who were playing the McMaster Marauders.
"I hate Laval. I went there one time and I just really hated it. You suck, Laval. I really don't like you. Nothing personal but f--- you," Van Koeverden wrote.
The post, which has subsequently been deleted, didn't sit too well with many Quebeckers. And if the kayaker's Twitter page is any indication of his response, van Koeverden had to spend much of his weekend apologizing for his comments, which is explained were just in good fun.
One of Van Koeverden's later posts—a bilingual post, no less--indicates how much backpedalling was necessary to appease the Twitter universe.
"Sorry if I offended anyone. Je suis désolé pour mon choix de mots. I was just cheering at a football game, nothing more. Have a great day!" he wrote on Saturday.
The Vanier Cup was played at the Rogers Centre in Toronto Friday. Laval beat McMaster with a score of 37 to14.
'Hamilton is a great city'
He may have been unwilling to talk about his Twitter page, but he was happy to talk about his affection for McMaster and Hamilton, where he lived for many years.
"My years at McMaster were awesome," said van Koeverden who graduated in 2007.
"I studied kinesiology so my professors were always really, really supportive of my athletic endeavours and I had a lot of support from the university and my classmates. It was a really good time in my life. I felt like I had something to do beyond my athletic career."
"Hamilton is a great city," he added.
"It's still a growing city—it's growing beyond its blue collar roots, which are certainly nothing to be ashamed of. The blue collar nature of this city has always been charming as far as I'm concerned and I think the university plays a big role in improving the city and keeping it on the map, so to speak."
He was also willing to weigh in on the news about Toronto mayor Rob Ford being removed from office after he was found guilty of violating city council's standards regarding conflicts of interest Monday.
"I think it's great," said van Koeverden. "I think he's been a terrible mayor in Toronto. He hasn't represented the city well and I think it's justice well served. There's been continual accusations about conflict of interest and other things that really have jeopardized his career and I think if there's any speculation about someone's intentions when they're holding public office—an elected official—they need to be heavily scrutinized."