rowing canada

By RoseAnna Schick

(ISN) – On the road from the World Cup in Lucerne to the 2012 Games in London, Rowing Canada Aviron presents our “athlete of the week” profile. This week, we feature Darcy Marquardt of the women’s eight, who will be competing next at the World Cup. Next week watch for a profile of one of our heavyweight men.

margqhardtShe’s a world champion and two-­‐time Olympic rower. But it was a couple of ice-sport athletes who first fueled and then later reignited her desire for competition.

“I was nine years old, and a figure skater at the time. I remember watching the Calgary Winter Olympics on TV and wanted to be just like Elizabeth Manley (silver medallist),” recalls Darcy Marquardt, who grew up playing sports like softball, rugby and hockey. It would be another 10 years before she found rowing – her ultimate road to the Olympics.

This summer in London, Marquardt will compete in her third Olympic games, representing Canada in the women’s eight (note: team will be officially announced in June). At the last games in Beijing she came close to the podium, with a 4th place finish in the women’s eight. Pondering retirement afterwards, a chat with a speedskater sparked her to set sights on London.

“I spoke to Clara Hughes in the airport lounge when I was leaving Beijing and she asked me if I was going to continue rowing. When I said I wasn’t sure, she said that if I still have that passion, fire in my belly and the desire to be better, then I would want to continue competing. And she was right.”

After coming so close to the podium, Marquardt realized she had unfinished business. So she decided to get back in the boat and train for London. Her goal? “To fight for the gold medal.” Her training mantra? “If you want what you have never had, DO what you have never done.”

Marquardt’s proudest achievement on the water is winning gold at the 2006 World Championship in the women’s pair along with Jane Thornton. Off the water, volunteering at the Thames Valley Children’s Centre from 2006 to 2008 has been one of her most meaningful pursuits, where she worked with children who had terminal disorders.

“My role was to engage the kids in physical activities and craft making. It was such a delight to see a child’s face light up when they got in the swimming pool or created a paper plate mask. I felt like I was actually making a difference.”

As an Olympian, Marquardt is an inspiration to the millions of Canadians who will be watching her compete. When not rowing, she’ll cheer on fellow Canadian athletes – including her fiancé, a member of Canada’s swim team.

“It is pretty incredible we are both going to the Olympics, considering we met four years ago in Beijing. I have to say it is much harder watching someone you love compete rather than competing yourself -­‐ wow!”

“Watching all the other athletes inspires me. Both winter Olympics in 2006 and 2010 motivated me in my own training at the half-­‐way point between summer games.”

“I love the speed skaters and the figure skaters.”