Mark de Jonge's gold medal win inspires young paddlers
'For years I had dreamt of this moment,' says Mark de Jonge
Young paddlers in Halifax are celebrating Mark de Jonge's world record and gold medal win in the K1 200 metre final in Moscow.
De Jonge, 30, set a world record in the K1 200-metre semifinal at the 2014 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships on Saturday.
His time of 33.945 seconds beat the previous International Canoe Federation record set in 1992.
Then, he followed that feat with a gold medal win in Sunday's final.
"It feels amazing, actually. It's as good as I thought it would be. For years I had dreamt of this moment," he told CBC News.
Back at home, dozens of young paddlers were gathered at Lake Banook for a regatta.
Some of de Jonge's young fans, like Sam James, were thrilled by the paddler's success.
"I actually got his autograph two years ago, he came to Cheema, he gave us all his autographs. I actually got him to sign a rock for me," he said.
For many of the young athletes, seeing their idol win gold gives them a new goal.
"Doesn't matter where you're from or who is coaching you, you've always gotta strive for what you want," said Sawyer Capes.
"It may seem like a distant goal to become a world champion some day, as it would be at a young age, but just believe in yourself and stay true to your dreams and you can make things happen," said de Jonge.
De Jonge's next challenge is something a little bit different than competing in a world-class paddling event. He's now heading home to get married.