Nova Scotia

Dartmouth paddler moves forward despite ongoing concerns around COVID

The competitive paddling season may be over but training continues for 18-year-old Ian Gaudet, despite questions around COVID-19 that continue to plague the sports community.

National team training camp in Florida up in the air due to pandemic

Ian Gaudet of Dartmouth, N.S., won three gold medals at the Canadian championships in Ottawa this summer and a bronze at the world junior championships. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The competitive paddling season may be over but training is continuing for Ian Gaudet, despite questions around COVID-19 that continue to plague the sports community.

The 18-year-old from Dartmouth, N.S., just finished a great year where he won three Canadian championships in Ottawa at the 200, 500 and 1,000-metre distances. He went on to win a bronze medal in the K-1 500 metres at the world junior championships held in Portugal, the only medal won by the Canadian men's team.

"That was the goal for me all year was to be working toward that 500-metre race," said Gaudet, following a brisk early morning training session. "I had a great race in the heat and again in the semis, and I was confident going into the final."

Gaudet is a student at Saint Mary's University in Halifax and is hoping he will be able to continue with his schooling online and travel to Florida this winter where he will train with members of Canada's national team. But due to COVID, a final decision on a winter training camp hasn't been made.

Gaudet is shown holding the Michael Schaus Memorial Trophy, awarded each year to the K-1 200-metre winner at the Canadian paddling championships. Schaus was a former standout paddler from the Banook Canoe Club in Dartmouth. (Submitted by Kim Gaudet)

"Training camps in the off season are totally important and I really hope we can go to one with the virus and all, but I'm sure the national team will come up with something we can do," he said.

Gaudet's biggest goal continues to be qualifying for the Olympics, whether it's the 2024 Games in Paris or the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. But the International Olympic Committee recently decided to cut his strongest event from the Olympics, the K-1 200.

"It was a little disappointing to hear that but it really just made us refocus on other events," said Gaudet. "We'll have to see where the next couple of years go, but I'm continuing my focus more on the 500 now and maybe I'll be involved in some crew boats."

Despite the setback related to his strongest race, Gaudet continues to train as hard and as often as he can.

Gaudet is shown during a weightlifting session at the Banook Canoe Club. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

While most people are still sleeping, Gaudet and a handful of other high-level paddlers are out on the waters of Lake Banook and Lake Micmac, sometimes as early as 6 a.m. when they have to attach lights to their boats to see where they are going.

They return to the water for a second paddling session late in the afternoon and lift weights in between their workouts on the water.

All the activity is magnified by the fact Gaudet just started going to Saint Mary's.

"It's definitely busy with my schedule and doing school work every night, but it's really the lifestyle a paddler has to go through if they want to go to university," said Gaudet.