One of the great moments for Canada in the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the victory of the Canadian men's eight when they won the gold medal. Kevin Light was part of that team. Not only is he a championship rower but he's a writer and photographer
who has been contributing to CBCSports.ca ever since then.
He took some time away from the sport and then felt the urge to return. This year he is the spare for another rowing team that has a shot at a medal - if not gold.
Here is his contribution to our Olympic relay.
His Olympic Event
Elk Lake, B.C. is the home of your training with the rowing team. What does that place mean to you?
This year is my 15th year rowing on Elk Lake and I passed the mark of having rowed over 100,000km in May. The lake is 2.5-km long so it is fair to say I have a lot of memories associated with the lake and I have also done a lot of turning. It is the home of the men's team, but Victoria is also where I grew up so I also spent my high school and university years rowing on Elk Lake.
Your passion is photography. Do you like taking pictures of people or scenery?
Taking photos of people is more rewarding than photos of scenery because people have an emotional element to them. People and the scenarios they are in change and I like capturing those moments because when you are in the moment you don't always realize how unique or special those moments are until they are gone.
I find myself actively seeking out photographers who are the Mike Spracklen's of the photography world in order to improve my skill. I have been told I have an eye for photography but I crave information on how I can become a better photographer the same way I did when I started rowing.
Maybe we should ask your wife this. But how do you keep a marriage going when every moment of your life you are dead tired from training?
I do get tired from rowing and I think it may have been a blessing that my wife and I were apart for the three years leading up to the Beijing Olympics. It allowed us to focus on our personal life objectives while at the same time allowing a few moments on the phone each day to connect. We have been living together for a year now. Following the Beijing Olympics she went to nursing school in Lethbridge for two years. We have a cat, a dog and a new house so things are changing and there are new challenges we are learning to deal with together.
I have always been very goal-oriented and when I pick a goal everything in my life goes toward achieving that goal. The priority of having a strong marriage and family life is more subtle to me than doing what it takes to win a gold medal. It has been an adjustment for me to realize that going for a walk is just as important as a rowing workout or spending time editing photos on my computer.
The last 15 years of my life has been focused only on one rowing goal, now I have more than one goal, marriage, rowing and photography and balancing the three is an adjustment I have to remind myself to not take my wife and what she does for me for granted. In rowing winning is the end goal and before I got married I associated getting married with winning. But I'm realizing that getting married is like the start of a race more than it is the end.
How do you measure success?
Success is measured differently depending on the subject. In timed sports I measure success by how many times an athlete is the fastest. It's a simple way but measuring success by anything other than results in a discipline that can be measured by results is inaccurate.
Measuring success in photography is more difficult. When I began photography I was measuring my success by how many hits a particular photo would get on the internet. Now I define photography success as being in the right place at the right time, having the technical ability to have your camera on the correct settings to consistently get sharp photos, being calm enough to compose the photo correctly and finally when working for someone taking the kind of photos they want. Money also has to be factor as a successful photographer should be getting paid as that is a sign your work is of a high standard.
Success in family life can be measured by how happy you are. For me happiness comes from and trying to accomplishing things that are challenging, stressful and scary. Each day may not be happy but as long as you are attempting to do things that if accomplished make you happy, then you are successful at life.
It is four years after the gold-medal performance in Beijing. Will anything be as good as winning that medal?
My favourite quote is by Vince Lombardi: 'The spirit, the will to win and the will to excel, these are the things that endure and these are the qualities that are so much more important than any of the events that occasion them.'
I like it because it emphasizes that training and your approach to training is more important to success than the event in which you are training for. My Olympic gold medal is a huge accomplishment and is a symbol of the qualities and characteristics I acquired to achieve it. I think things can be as good as winning the medal because I feel life is full challenges and the pursuit and achievement of winning the medal has given me the tools to not be afraid to commit to the level that is necessary.
Nothing in rowing is as big as winning at the Olympics, but I think if I can have a family that has enough money that my kids are not limited in what they want to try, whilst living with proper values and respect that will make me just as proud as I felt by transforming my body and mind into something that was capable of winning the Olympics.
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