It's Canada Day!  So I've stuck a photo of my most very proud moment as a Canadian.  I got to carry our great nation's flag, the Maple Leaf, into the Bird's Nest Stadium for the Opening Ceremony for the Beijing Summer Olympics, four years ago.  What a thrill, what an honour, what a privilege, and what an awesome memory.  I love Canada, it's my favourite place in the world, and this was my proudest moment as a Canadian, ever.

So I'm training in Budapest, well, in Szolnok just outside Budapest.  I'm with the usual suspects, Anders Gustafsson and Kenny Wallace and the infamous Aussie gang of four... Murray Stewart, David Smith, Tate Smith and Jacob Clear.  Akos Vereckei and Gábor Bozsik have also joined into a few sessions so that we've got a solid 9 lanes of World and Olympic medallists in every session. They are the hardest working dudes in our sport, so it's a manacingly hard program, but it's a lot of fun, and plenty rewarding. Thanks to Coach Jimmy and Coach Luce for all the cold drinks and words of wise encouragement.  I've got another week of abuse to put up with here (or rather, self-inflict).  I'm looking forward to every exhausting session, each ripping fast kilometer, and every hard stroke, with masochistic anticipation.  I love the result, so I am more than happy to embrace the process.  I get more out of the hard work than fitness.  I am mentally more attune, stronger psychologically, and increasingly at one with my boat and paddle (ok, at three?)... with every stroke I execute.

Two things, real quick, ok?  Go and buy the Cottage Life magazine at Roots.  It means a lot to me. I wrote the feature and I'm really proud of it, and I want to share it with my millions of readers, but the only way for you to read it, is to buy the magazine.  If you don't live in Canada, (I'm sorry that you don't because Canada is the best) Cottage Life might be tough to find, but I will maybe try to post the article online after the magazine has hit 20Million+ in sales.

The second thing is this 2-pager I wrote for the Dominion Day Regatta Programme.  It's educational, so I'm including it here in case you are going to Ottawa for Canada Day, or do not live in Canada (again, my sincerest condolences, here: CLICK).  HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!!!

Dominion Day Regatta 2012 – Required Reading by Adam van Koeverden

I’ve been considering what exactly Dominion Day Regatta goers would like to read in their Dominion Day Regatta Program.  In all likelihood, you’ve purchased it to have a (relatively) accurate account of when your races, or the races of your children or grandchildren might be scheduled to come down the Allan Lamport Regatta Course on Toronto Island.  So consider my musings here to be a bonus! I apologize if you’d prefer a Sudoku puzzle or a crossword or something.  I’ll try to be less frustrating than a Sudoku puzzle and more thorough than a crossword because I don’t think I’ve ever finished a crossword but I promise I will finish this article. I suppose my role here is to provide a little “Canadian Canoe-Kayak Content” in this Olympic year; it was also a leap-year, as all Summer Olympic years are.  This Dominion Day Regatta Program is, after all, funded in part by the Government of Canada (like me!), and is thus subject to the same CanCon laws that dictate that 40% of all programming be made, at least in some part, in Canada or by a Canadian.  I’m in Florida right now (and it’s April), but I’m totally Canadian, so I assure you, this is legit CanCon right here.  Oh, and it’s Canada Day where you are, fantastic!  Happy Canada Day!

That Regatta Course there?  Yeah, that one. It’s called the Allan Lamport Regatta Course.  There’s an Allan A. Lamport Stadium up by my place on King Street as well. I’ve played soccer there before, and yes it is indeed named after the same guy.  The middle ‘A’ stands for Austin.  Ol’ Lampy was the Mayor of our great city in the 1950s.  And we’ve got plenty more than just this racecourse to thank him for!  His most notable achievement, at least as it applies to the Dominion Day Regatta today, was to oppose the City of Toronto’s “Blue Laws”, which prohibited the playing of sports in the city on Sundays. The puritan forebears of our great city locked up playing fields and even swing-sets on Sundays!  He cut them padlocks right off of them playgrounds.

Today is Sunday!  Actually today, the day I’m writing this article, in April, is really a Sunday.  As is the Dominion Day Regatta this year, YOUR Sunday. I feel like I’m writing for a time capsule. What is the future like, dear reader?  One of Lampy’s most famous quotations was: "It's hard to make predictions - especially about the future".  (I’m not making this up.)

Well I’ll be! If it weren’t for Ol’ Lampy we wouldn’t be here today racin’ kayaks and canoes and those funky backwards-boats would we?  We’d all be in our Sunday best, pewin’ up for communion and psalms!  I’m certain I haven’t offended anyone because if you are reading this, then you’re in breach of the Christian Sabbath anyhow. Sorry if I did, though.

His Excellency Mayor Allan A. Lamport also petitioned the Province of Ontario to allow for the opening of cocktail bars in the city of Toronto. Until 1947 there weren’t any!  You’d have to go to a speakeasy for a drink, or, ironically, to Church if it happened to be Sunday.   Sports and booze!  Mayor Allan sounds ok.

Lampy also believed in public housing, but hippies really got on his nerves.  He smoked cigars and presented the awards at the Miss Toronto Pageant at the Exhibition Place every year he was mayor.  He also flew planes in the Royal Canadian Air Force.  He was instrumental in getting the city to build both the Island Airport and Pearson International.   He oversaw the building of our subway system here, too.  Too bad he left it up to the fella in charge now to finish it, eh?  I think smart people should run cities, and I think public services are worth a few bucks in taxes and I like to ride my bike safely in Toronto, so suffice to say I’m not a huge fan of the guy in charge now.  But I feel like I would have liked Allan. You were all right, Lampy.  

It’s nice to have a little history lesson at the Regatta isn’t it?  I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Wikipedia for all that juicy Toronto lore.

So today is the last week of my 10-week Florida training camp.  In 11 weeks it’ll be Canada Day, Canada’s 145th Birthday, that’s your today.  If all goes to plan over the course of the next 11 weeks then I’ll be training in Hungary right now, preparing for my third Olympic Games.  Sadly, over the course of my racing career I’ve spent quite a few Canada Days abroad.  I’ll be celebrating today with a mini Maple Leaf flag, a North of 60 DVD box set, some very loud Men Without Hats (Safety Dance, for the CanCon) and bowl of goulash all on my own here in Szolonok. 

Even now, more than 100 days removed from the Olympics, I’m getting pretty excited.  For you, dear reader, we’re only 5 weeks away!  Oh man, that makes me a little nervous.  One of the most common questions I’ve received from young paddlers over the years is: “Don’t you get nervous?” My answer is invariably the same every time: “Of course”.   Since I do, every single time I line up to race.  I think we get nervous about things we really care about. That’s how I deal with the nerves, I think: “Well, if I wasn’t nervous I guess I wouldn’t care, and if I didn’t care then I wouldn’t do very well, so in order to do well in my race I’d better be nervous!”  So if you’re nervous right now for your race coming up, maybe that helps.  Or if your kids are nervous you could share that with them.  No, wait.  That’s not cool.  Kids don’t want their parents telling them not to be nervous.  Just tell them I’m cool, “Adam van Koeverden is cool, eh guys?”  Actually... will the kids think I’m cool, if their parents tell them I am?  Maybe not... Maybe we should have just gone with a Sudoku puzzle, huh?

Another common question I get is about goal setting.  I’ve been asked by the media what my goal is for London, ad naseum.  They’ve often framed the question like “Adam, you’ve carried our flag at the Closing and Opening Ceremony, and you’ve won an Olympic medal of all three colours, what are your goals leading into London?”  Alright, I admit it. Nobody asked me that question, I just wanted to brag about my Olympic stuff.  But, if anybody does ask, I’ll tell them that my goal is always the same.  I just want to race my very best.  I want to cross the finish line knowing that I couldn’t have gone any faster.  I want to be sure my tank is totally empty, that I executed a perfect race with great, efficient technique and made all these thousands of kilometers in training worthwhile.  That’s why we train so hard, to make our bests even better. 

Good luck to you, and your club mates or your kids or grandkids or whoever you’re at the Allan Lamport Regatta Course to cheer on today.  We’ve got a great sport, don’t we?   It’s thanks to those who’ve committed so much of their livelihoods to Canoeing in Canada.  So, thank a volunteer or a coach today. Or, in the case that you’re a volunteer or a coach then, hey... Thanks Eh?  Happy Canada Day!


::Cottage Life::

Early last fall, after Randy Starkman & Randy Risling from the Toronto Star came for a visit up in Algonquin Park and produced that cool video, Toronto-based Cottage Life magazine asked if I was interested in having a little artice writen about my place up there.  I said I would certainly like that very much, but only if they would permit me to write that article myself.  Almost 10-months later, it's on shelves! Here's the cover, and a very small teaser... pick up a copy of the magazine to read my feature, and because it's a fantastic publication.  Thank you to Michelle and Penny and everyone Cottage Life, you are a pleasure to work with, and I hope it's not the last time I have the privilege.


{a tiny excerpt} 

..."Up until that corner, my kayaking career had been rewarding on many levels, not the least of which was bringing me to that corner in Algonquin Park.  I often consider how the choices we make and the paths we take mould us into the people that we are.  My choice to turn right that rainy morning, a seemingly random decision, turned out to be another game changer for me.  When I was out paddling on South Tea Lake I saw a “For Sale” sign on a dock.  I was intrigued so I got out of my boat on that dock and had a look around.  The property was home to a very old log cabin, and nobody had been by in quite a long time.  There were five or six big fallen trees blocking the path, and since I was in bare feet I didn’t explore for too long.  I committed the real estate phone number to memory, and finished my paddle in the rain."...



Comin' Home...

It's been a long month.  4 countries in 4 weeks, lots of travel and hotels and hotel food and shuttle buses.  It's easy to say that I'm anxious to come home and just concentrate on training for a few weeks.

Moscow was a good challenge. The wind put up a good fight, but I pushed through that bastard and it felt good.  My lungs are actually still a little raw.

In a few hours Mark and I will be back on Canadian soil.  He won the 5000m yesterday, so we got to hear O Canada for the second time in an many days... made us both a little homesick.

Euro tour 2012 is a wrap.  See you soon...


::european tour 12::

It's time to write something!

I've been in Europe for a little more than 2 weeks now. My first was spent in Portugal at the Nelo training facility at the beautiful Montebelo Aguieira.  It's a great dammed lake very much like the waterways of Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia.  Lots of great paddling and trail running there, I recommend it to anyone as a training site. Well, to canoers and kayakers in training but I doubt if downhill ski racers or ice climbers or astronauts, deepsea divers, big-game hunters or those engaged in high wizardry training would enjoy the facility as much as we did. But it's good for paddlers. 

My second week was in Poznan, racing the 1st of 3 World Cup competitions, on little Lake Malta.  I only raced the 1000m K1 event, and as you can see in the picture above, I placed third in my finale. Congrats to Rene (kind of looks like Shrek in this picture, growl) (DEN) and Eirik (why are you wearing a scarf?) (NOR) and all the guys on a good race. Cheers to Balint for the always high quality photographic excellence. Thank you Poznan for the very pretty flowers.  Owing to my Dutchness, I love me some tulips.

After the race we all made our way to Duisburg, Germany.  Duisburg is a pleasantly familiar place for me to be in May, as I've raced here many times over the decade-plus I've been paddling my boat for Canada. The city Zentrum has improved so much over the past 10 years, it has really developed into a wonderfully vibrant and culturally thriving town.  It's a multicultural working class city close to Dusseldorf, with one of the nicest and most functional pedestrian-only promenades of any European city I've visited. The public art, restored architecture and bountiful fountains are of a truly capital city pedigree. I spend my afternoons with a book and an espresso at a street-side cafe, or on the grass of their new raised green space right beside the Mercatorhalle, Duisburg's new mixed-use cultural hotspot.  Mark Oldershaw and I attended the symphony last night, and enjoyed some Tchaikovsky and Schostakowitsch from the Duisburger Philharmonisches. Vladimir Spivakov conducted for a diverse full house, and enjoyed some 7 rounds of applause, treating us to a lively and familiar encore which everyone recognized, but whose name was lost on us jocks. Mark said we shoulda "Shazaamed it".  Whatever the heck that's supposed to mean.

Racing commences tomorrow at the Regattabahn in Sportpark Wedau, easily my favourite of all the international canoe-kayak venues I've raced.  I am again only concentrating on the 1000m K1, and I'll leave the 500m to my longtime clubmate and up-and-comer, Brady Reardon.

Following the Duisburg World Cup, on Monday Mark O, Bernard "the internationale leader of teams" Irvin and I are off to Moscow for World Cup 3 and hopefully a little sightseeing, as I have never been to Russia before.

Good luck to everyone racing front-ways here in Duisburg, good luck to the Canadian Rowers racing back-ways in Lucerne... Go Canada Go!

Stoked as always... talk to you soon.


:Give Your Everything: