A balance of veteran competitors and first-time Olympians will be paddling the waters of London representing Canada at the upcoming 2012 Summer Games.
Canoe-Kayak Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee on Monday unveiled the roster of athletes who will be heading overseas when the Games kick off in just over a month.
Headlining the squad is three-time Olympic medallist Adam van Koeverden, a strong contender to add another medal to his resumé. The Oakville, Ont. native will be competing in the men's K-1 1,000-metre — an event he won at last year's world championships in Hungary.
He was Canada's flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Games — where he won silver in the men's C-1 500 — and has high expectations for himself this time around.
“Every time I line up, my goal is to put together the best performance I possibly can,” van Koeverden said in a release. “I know that in the back of my mind, that’s usually worth a medal or a win.”
Mark Oldershaw is another experienced athlete hoping for a strong performance, as the Burlington, Ont. native will be participating in his second Olympics. Oldershaw's grandfather Bert and father Scott also represented Canada at the Games, in 1948 and 1984, respectively. Bert was a three-time Olympian while uncle Dean participated in two Olympics (Munich, 1972 and Montreal, 1976), and uncle Reed competed at the 1976 Games as well.
“We’re proud to have such a talented team representing us in London,” Lorraine Lafrenière, Director General of Canoe-Kayak Canada, said in a release. “These athletes and their coaches are dedicated to achieving strong performances for Canadian fans to celebrate.”
Another second-time Olympian to make Canada's squad is 25-year-old Émilie Fournel, who will be competing in the women's K-1 events. Fournel's brother Hugues will also be heading to London, joining Windsor, N.S. native Ryan Cochrane in the men's K-2 200.
Hugues Fournel and Cochrane — not to be confused with the 2008 Beijing Olympic 1,500m swimming bronze medallist of the same name — have enjoyed success in the discipline, claiming two World Cup bronze medals so far in the K-2 200 this season.
Team Canada is also hopeful of strong results in the new Olympic K-1 200 distance, as Halifax native Mark de Jonge leads the squad into competition after coming off an impressive performance at the Canadian trials on Sunday in Montreal.
De Jonge recorded a lightning-quick time of 33.804 seconds, 0.176 faster than the best time ever recorded by the International Canoe Federation to punch his ticket to the Games.
Jason McCoombs, 19, is Canada's youngest representative and will be participating in his first ever Olympics. The Dartmouth, N.S. native is slated to race in the men's C-1 200. His resumé boasts an impressive showing at the 2010 Junior Pan American Canoe Championships, where he nabbed three gold medals (C-1 200, C-1 500, C-2 200) and two silvers (C-1 1,000, C-4 1,000) in Mexico.
Joining him as another first-time Olympian is Michael Tayler, who will compete in the men's K-1 slalom. The Calgary native has won five junior national titles.
There are 12 races on the sprint canoe and kayak program for the 2012 London Olympics. For the men: the K-1 and K-2 200, the K-1, K-2 and K-4 1,000, the C-1 200 and the C-1 and C-2 1,000. For the women, it is the K-1 200 and the K-1, K-2 and K-4 500.