Olympic champion Mark de Jonge was at the Canada Games Centre last Thursday to promote sport in Nova Scotia.
A section of the pool was cleared out to make way for some kayaks, de Jonge’s claim to Olympic fame. But he wasn’t alone; a group of young aspiring rowers joined him.
It’s not every day you get one-on-one training with an Olympian, and the kids in the water seemed pretty excited about it.
One of those in the water was Jackson Power.
“It felt good to actually paddle with an Olympic medalist, so it was kind of cool,” Power said.
Having only started paddling two months ago, he was admittedly a little shaky in the water, falling in a few times, but that didn’t stop him.
“It just looked cool, and I plan to keep paddling,” he said when asked why he came to the event.
De Jonge later said it’s important for kids to get involved with sport at an early age.
“I think it’s great to start to do some things with kids early and they’re so excited about sports that they get really excited to have an Olympian around,” de Jonge said. “For me I always had those role models growing up and I think it’s something that every Olympian has had.”
The event was held to raise awareness for Sports Day in Canada.
De Jonge said he is happy to see an increased interested in paddling.
“It’s really cool to get them in boats and expose them to that sport because a lot of them are already doing soccer, hockey, baseball, and you get this core group of sports, but why not have kayaking in that group too?” he said.
De Jonge said he hopes his recent bronze medal win at the 2012 London Olympic Games will inspire young people to take up kayaking.
“I started when I was a kid too and to think that I’m 28 now, such a long time in the sport and I have had a lot of victories and things to be proud of, but the Olympic medal is the ultimate thing and just makes the whole 15 years seem worth it.”
About Sports Day In Canada
Sports Day in Canada, on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, was a national celebration of sport, from grassroots to high-performance levels, in communities across Canada. Sports Day in Canada capped off a week of more than a thousand local events and activities, such as community-wide festivals, try-it days, open houses, games, competitions, meet-and-greets, tournaments, fun runs, spectator events and pep rallies, and included a special television broadcast on CBC Sports.