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Van Koeverden leads Canadian paddlers into Beijing

Olympic gold medallist Adam van Koeverden and veteran whitewater kayaker David Ford headlined the announcement Wednesday of Canada's paddling team for the 2008 Beijing Games.

Olympic gold medallist Adam van Koeverden and veteran whitewater kayaker David Ford headlined the announcement Wednesday of Canada's paddling team for the 2008 Beijing Games.

Canada will race in all 12 Olympic flatwater events for the first time in 20 years at the Aug. 8-24 Games.

Leading the charge is Oakville, Ont., native van Koeverden, who qualified for the men's kayak singles 500-metre and 1,000-metre events. He is the defending Olympic champion in the K-1 500 and also won bronze in the 1,000 at the Athens Games.

Van Koeverden was the Canadian team's flag-bearer at the closing ceremony in Athens and, later that year, Canadian journalists voted him the winner of the Lou Marsh Award as the country's best athlete of 2004.

In 2005, van Koeverden won silver (K-1 1,000) and bronze (K-1 500) at the world championships in Croatia. At last year's world championships in Germany, he won gold (K-1 500) and silver (K-1 1,000).

Canada also has two entries in the two-man kayak event. Andrew Willows of Gananoque, Ont., and Richard Dober Jr., of Trois-Rivieres, Que., qualified in the K-2 500, while Steve Jorens of Aurora, Ont., and Ryan Cuthbert of Carleton Place, Ont., are preparing for the K-2 1,000.

The crew for the K-4 1,000 announced Wednesday comprises Rhys Hill and Angus Mortimer of Ottawa, Christopher Pellini of Mississauga, Ont., and Brady Reardon of Burlington, Ont.

In whitewater, Edmonton native Ford will race in his fifth Olympic Games in the men's K-1.  Sarah Boudens, of Pembroke, Ont., in the women's K-1, and James Cartwright, of Ottawa, in the men's C-1 will also compete in whitewater.

In women's kayak events, veteran Karen Furneaux of Waverley, N.S., will compete in the K-1 500, Kristin Gauthier of Ottawa and Mylanie Barre of Lac-Beauport, Que., in the K-2 500, and Furneaux, Gauthier, Emilie Fournel of Lachine, Que., and Genevieve Beauchesne-Sevigny of Trois-Rivieres in the K-4 500.

In the men's canoe events, Mark Oldershaw of Burlington is Canada's entry in the C-1 500, Thomas Hall of Pointe-Claire, Que., will race in the C-1 1,000 and Gabriel Beauchesne-Sevigny and Andrew Russell of Dartmouth, N.S., will compete in both the C-2 500 and C-2 1,000.

With files from the Canadian Press