There’s been a lot of negative publicity surrounding the Pan Am games wrapping up this weekend in Toronto. From dubious spending to unsold tickets to lack of public support and transportation nightmares, the message of the games got hijacked long before the games arrived and never quite fully recovered. One story I am particularly disappointed not to have seen in the media is a discussion of why it is important to support our athletes.
I have personally come across strong opinions that athletes are pursuing their own dreams and should pay their own way. I have a lot to say on this topic but this isn’t the place to have that argument (though I will write about it separately at a later time because I do think it’s important). Suffice it to say that I deeply believe that athletes are a lot more than the sum of their training and physical abilities.
And Adam van Koeverden is a perfect example. Never mind that he has Olympic medals in each colour, 2 World Championships, 22 World Cup Championships, and 67 Canadian Championships. He has won Canadian Athlete of the Year and has broken a world record (his own!) for the fastest 500m ever in a canoe or kayak. He is a great athlete and has made Canada proud. Do a quick Google image search for him and this is what you get:
But never mind all that, or even his charitable work in support of a number of high profile charitable foundations (including some of my personal favourites!). Never mind those. What really drives my point home is the fact that an athlete of his caliber would voluntarily (and instantly!) reach out to a group of high school kids denied of a camp trip and offer the kind of solution dreams are made of. Check out what happened when Adam heard that Amesbury Collegiate students in Toronto didn’t get to go to camp due to water safety concerns:
That’s right. A day of paddling with an Olympic medalist to give them a chance to experience the joys of water sports and challenging themselves physically. Now, tell me how many politicians you know (who get a lot more public funding than our athletes) who would step in to personally and single-handedly offer a solution to a problem they didn’t create? And whose Twitter feed is full of good cheer and support for good causes and fellow competitors?
People like Adam who go out of their way to step up to the plate and lead by example give me hope for humanity. Well played, Adam! Another GOLD.
Unfortunately, the offer was not taken up, though I’ve checked with Adam and it still stands. I dearly hope that the students get organized and follow up on this, or someone at the school gets a day trip on the books now that it’s time to think about a new school year. Because if an Olympic kayaker invited me out for a paddle, I would be there faster than you could say “pinch me”!
To read more about this story, see this Toronto Star article.
To learn more about Adam, visit his website.
To support Canadian athletes, visit this page to learn more and get started.