It's been a roller coaster of a summer for Nova Scotia kayaker Ryan Cochrane, who has been selected to Canada's Olympic team just five days before the opening ceremonies in Rio.

"It was a crazy summer," Cochrane told CBC News on Monday. "Right now, I believe that I'm in the best shape of my entire life."

Cochrane and Hugues Fournel were notified on Sunday that they had been selected by Canoe Kayak Canada as last-minute additions to the team. Their selection was based on the recommendation of Canada's national team discipline coach after a Russian crew was suspended for a doping infraction. 

The two, who train in Lac-Beauport, Que., will compete in the men's K2 200-metres event in Rio de Janeiro.

Feeling 'more confident'

After the Russian crew was suspended, their two competition spots were offered to a Swedish crew. The Swedes had finished eighth in last year's ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships and were next in line for any openings.

When the Swedes declined, the spots became available to Cochrane and Fournel, who had placed ninth in the competition in Milan.

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Cochrane, right, Fournel finished seventh in the K2 200 at the 2012 London Olympics. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Cochrane said he was "elated" to hear of the official nomination on Sunday.

"We were still training very hard and working hard," he said.

"But there was a lot of time sitting around waiting for who's going to be in the crew and how they were going to figure everything out or what was going to happen."

Breaking personal bests

Cochrane said he missed one week of training this summer, when his grandmother became sick and died. He flew back to his native Nova Scotia — he was born in Halifax and raised in Windsor — and "missed her by two hours."

"I think that she's kind of smiling down and that she had something to do with this whole process in a weird way," he said.

Cochrane immediately started to train again. So far this year, he's been happy with the results.

"Some of my fastest speeds, some of my best times. I broke my personal best by .4 — almost a half a second — at the national team trials number two in the individual [category]."


Cochrane has spent some time considering his competition, but some of the top athletes he would have been up against are no longer racing.

"The competition is going to be really heavy," he said. "It won't be a very easy task by any means, but I have very high expectations."

Cochrane and Fournel finished seventh in the K2 200 at the 2012 London Olympics.

Not to be confused with the other Ryan Cochrane

The additional crew brings Canoe Kayak Canada's team total to 11 for the Olympic Games, including nine sprint athletes and two canoe slalom athletes.

It also means the Canadian Olympic team now has two Ryan Cochranes — a kayaker and a swimmer.

With files from The Canadian Press