Canada names experienced Olympic canoe-kayak team
1st-ever paracanoers also announced
Former Olympic champion Adam van Koeverden leads a group of five returning Olympians as part of Canada's canoe-kayak roster heading to Rio.
Four Olympic newcomers round out the team announced by the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canoe Kayak Canada on Monday.
Van Koeverden will compete in his fourth Olympics. The Oakville, Ont., native owns four medals from his previous trips, including a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games. Mark de Jonge and Mark Oldershaw, who both earned bronze in London, also made the team.
De Jonge, a Pan Am and International Canoe Federation world championship gold medallist, will look to add Olympic gold to his haul.
The following paddlers will compete for Canada at the upcoming Olympics.
- Andréanne Langlois, Quebec, Que. (K1 200)
- Émilie Fournel, Montreal, Que. (K1 500)
- Genevieve Orton, Lake Echo, N.S. (K2 500)
- KC Fraser, Oakville, Ont. (K2 500)
- Mark de Jonge, Halifax, N.S. (K1 200)
- Adam van Koeverden, Oakville, Ont. (K1 1,000)
- Mark Oldershaw, Burlington, Ont. (C1 1,000)
- Michael Tayler, Ottawa, Ont. (K1 slalom)
- Cameron Smedley, Dunrobin, Ont. (C1 slalom)
Long road to qualification
Despite their Olympic pedigree, Oldershaw and van Koeverden experienced a protracted qualification process. Van Koeverden required a sudden-death race at the continental qualifiers to earn his spot in May. Oldershaw, however, was locked in a convoluted selection process that pitted him against Ben Tardioli for the men's canoe berth.
Oldershaw, a third-generation Olympian, was eventually nominated after what Canoe Kayak Canada referred to as "a complicated system of internal event prioritization," which included the national team trials and continental qualifiers.
First-time Olympians Genevieve Orton and KC Fraser only qualified on Friday. The duo, who earned Canada's quota spot in the K2 500, won a race-off against Michelle Russell and Madeline Schmidt to determine who would fill the berth.
Kayaker Andréanne Langlois and slalom canoer Cameron Smedley will also make their Olympic debuts in Rio. Langlois earned an additional quota spot for women's kayaking. Émilie Fournel, who will make her third Olympic appearance this summer, chose to focus on the K1 500, leaving the spot open for Langlois.
Smedley and London Olympics slalom kayaker Michael Tayler earned their berths at a slalom World Cup event in La Seu d'Urgell, Spain earlier in June.
'Historic moment' for Para-caonoe
Canada's paracanoe roster was also announced Monday, with Christine Gauthier and Erica Scarff selected to the Paralympic squad.
"It's very exciting for our paddlers to be going to the Paralympic Games for the first time," said Canoe Kayak Canada's Para-canoe coach Marc Creamer in a press release on the Canadian Paralympic Committee Website.
"Christine has been in the sport for many years and it's great to see her now headed to a Paralympic Games. Erica is newer to the sport and she's developed very quickly. Both have the talent to be in the medal mix."
Gauthier, originally from Dorval, Que., is a five-time world champion in the K1 200 event. Toronto's Scarff is an emerging contender in the sport, placing sixth at the 2016 world championships.
"I'm proud to see Canadian athletes taking part in an historic moment this summer as Para-canoe makes its Paralympic Games debut in Rio," Carla Qualtrough, Canada's minister of sport and persons with disabilities said in the press release.
"I join all Canadians, and especially our young people on lakes and rivers across the country, in wishing our Paralympic athletes the very best as they push for the podium this summer in Rio."