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 vankayak.com 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!