To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Canada Games, we’ve reached out to Games alumni to share their experiences.
How did you discover canoe-kayak as a sport?
My friends were doing it instead of going to day camp, and I decided to try it because my parents wouldn’t let me stay at home all day. I first started when I was 12-13 years old and I was really bad. I would fall all the time, but I kept going because I really wanted to be able to stay in the boat and I wanted to paddle.
What was your experience like at the Canada Games in 2009?
It was pretty awesome because I was 17 and it was my first big competition with all the preparation beforehand. I was like OMG, this is so intense. We were not in the big village, but we still had a nice campus, so it was pretty cool.
What was your favorite part about the Canada Games experience?
The competition. Usually, I am competing at only Canoe-Kayak events, and this a little bit of everything with so many sports and so many teams. I also enjoyed being surrounded by so many athletes in such a big event.
What is your favourite thing about competing?
It’s not before the race, that’s for sure. Before the race, I feel really bad, I get butterflies in my stomach and so nervous. When I finish a race, I am really relieved. I would say the actual racing and then having crossed the finish line knowing you gave it your all and are proud of what you have done.
With the CBC article that went out, tell us about the role you played in having women’s canoeing included in the 2020 games:
My role is proving that is can be done. When I started, people would say to girls, don’t even start, women cannot be good at canoe. My job was to prove to them that it is possible that the women can be not only be strong but paddle well. I’ve heard sometimes some countries show videos of my races to the men’s team to study how I paddle - that has to prove that women can paddle.
My job is to push others. The competition gets stronger and stronger and year after year, I have women coming up to me and say “oh my god, you’re my idol.” They tell me that I pushed them to do it, that they started because of me. I want to set the example that it [canoe] is worthy of being a women’s sport in the Olympic Games.
5 years from now, where do you see yourself?
I see myself in the Olympic Games for sure – on the podium. But also I see myself as a doctor-in-training. I would really love that. They are not only my goals, but it’s where I see my life, as Laurence Vincent-Lapointe, gold medalist and doctor-in-training.
What skills do you think you’ve learned through canoe that you can transfer out of the water into your life?
I’d say determination and the structure that it takes to succeed. I have always done full-time studies as well as training extremely hard to get to where I am right now.
What advice would you offer to athletes who will participate in future Canada Games?
To get to the games, keep going, never give up, and keep training so you get to participate. When you get to the actual games, don’t think too much, just give it your all. You’ve done so much to get there, there’s nothing more you can do but what you’re used to and your best. Don’t second guess yourself, just do it.