Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden’s achievements as an athlete are incredible. The 30-year-old native of Oakville, Ont., is a 67-time Canadian Champion, meaning he has won 67 gold medals at national competitions in various events, including his favourite: Senior Men’s War Canoe, with 15 athletes per boat. He’s also won three Olympic medals and was a flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies at Beijing 2008.
Like any elite athlete, van Koeverden has faced occasional challenges, but he says his sport has taught him a lot. ‘The daily grind of training for more than 15 years hasn’t been a snap, but I don’t view it as a hurdle. It’s been a process of discovery and growth.’
This summer his parents, Joe van Koeverden and Beata Bokrossy, plus younger brother Luke and an aunt or two, will follow him to the London Olympics.
Off the water, van Koeverden is an athlete ambassador for Right to Play, an organization that uses sport and play to help children in disadvantaged areas. Last fall, he travelled to Mali to help address health issues by providing play-based education resources.
Here are some of his thoughts on getting the most out of life.
Do your part
‘I’ve had lots of opportunities with sport, but advocating for Right to Play has been the most rewarding. I am who I am because I’ve had access to sport and play throughout my life’every kid should be able to take this fundamental right for granted.’
Look for balance
‘It’s important for me to unwind when I’m not going flat out. I like to read, play music, hang out and talk with friends’normal-people stuff. I’m a bit of an anal speller and like to play Scrabble, or write on my blog (vankayak.com).’
Take success in stride
‘I’m proud of my wins, and honoured to have represented my country. I’m also proud of my missteps and losses’they’ve made me stronger, juxtaposed my victories and put my career in perspective. Mostly, I’m just proud to be.’
Be inspired by others
‘I’ve made friends with Olympic athletes and high-calibre individuals, and have sought to ascertain what makes people great. I’ve always hoped that those characteristics are a little contagious.’
Eat for health
‘I eat a whole-food diet. I do indulge in sweets, but only after I’ve had a healthy meal. I love to cook for friends; one of my favourite recipes is mahi mahi fish tacos with avocado, salsa, rice and black beans.’
Take a break
‘For me, Sunday is my day off’unless we’re competing’and I’m religious about my Sunday morning sleep-ins. I also really like naps, even short ones.’
Embrace good fortune
‘I have a lot to be thankful for, and consider myself to be pretty lucky. But I also think people who work the hardest tend to find luck.’