Van Koeverden heading to Rio, Canada earns more Olympic spots

Four-time Olympic medallist Adam van Koeverden has qualified for his fourth – while Mark Oldershaw planted the seeds for his third – Olympic Games.

The two Canadian paddling legends won their respective races at the Pan Am Sprint Canoe Championships & Olympic Qualifier at Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia on Friday morning, earning Canada the Olympic spots, with van Koeverden taking the opening race of the day. Two more Canadian paddlers are in position to book a flight to Rio after a women’s K2 500m victory via Genevieve Orton and Kathleen Fraser.

Adam van Koeverden on the water in Gainesville, Georgia vying for a spot at Rio 2016 on May 20, 2016 (Photo: Bernard Irvin/CKC).

Adam van Koeverden on the water in Gainesville, Georgia vying for a spot at Rio 2016 on May 20, 2016 (Photo: Bernard Irvin/CKC).

“The route to get to this point, to get qualified, has been longer than it’s ever been for me,” van Koeverden said in a Canoe Kayak Canada release. “It was a hard and stressful morning. I did what I had to do and there are a lot of improvements that have to happen in the next few months for me to be satisfied with a good Olympic performance.”

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The kayaker won the K1 1000m race at the home of the Atlanta 1996 sprint canoe events, and said he will use the world cup season to tune up for the Games. Friday’s win earned him a direct entry to Rio 2016, where the sprint events will take place at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (video below, must be logged into Facebook to view).

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Oldershaw immediately followed van Koeverden to win the C1 1000m to secure an Olympic spot for Canada. The London 2012 bronze medallist in this event, Oldershaw could be nominated to the Rio 2016 team based on which other Olympic spots may be earned in Gainesville and subsequent world cup performances.

Canoe Kayak Canada tweeted that Oldershaw is in “good position to qualify” for the Olympic team.

“It was a really good race and a really good lead in to the world cups,” Oldershaw said. “It was a strong tailwind so I knew I had to get out fast and take control of the race. I got a spot for Canada and I just have to go over to world cups and perform well there and hopefully get that nomination.”

Orton and Fraser won Canada its third race with Olympic implications, taking gold in the women’s K2 500m on Friday. That earned Canada the right to send two more paddlers to Rio in women’s kayak, names that will be determined at national trials from June 24 to 26. 

Fraser was part of the women’s K4 500m team that won the first gold medal of the TO2015 Pan American Games last summer in Welland.