RCA Irow Champions: Spreading the Excitement to Rowing Clubs Across Canada

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rowing canada

October 15, 2012, London, ON – In the wake of London 2012, Canada’s rowing athletes are doing their part to help spread the word and foster participation in the sport across Canada. Rowing Canada Aviron’s (RCA) Irow Champions program is helping facilitate club and school visits, and supplement what many athletes already do on their own initiative.

Veteran Olympic lightweight rowing Doug Vandor visited three rowing clubs in Quebec recently to increase youth participation in that province. This RCA youth outreach program works with rowing clubs to reinforce the values we all support in rowing: fitness, commitment, teamwork, and fun!

“It was great seeing how excited the kids were to talk to me about rowing, training and the Olympics,” said Vandor, who was in the lightweight double for the last two Games. “I love talking to kids and sharing my passion about rowing with them. They are the future of rowing in this country and they are our future Olympians, and it is great to see their faces light up when I mention that.”

Doug Vandor is one of only two rowing 2012 Olympians who grew up in Quebec. “Rowing in Quebec is still a little known sport but it is growing, ever so slowly. Despite this, the kids who do row in Quebec are just as passionate about rowing as any I have seen in the rest of the country,” he said.

2012 Olympic silver medalist Darcy Marquardt made time to visit to the Edmonton Rowing Club and the University of Alberta as she travelled across the country in a move from her training base in Ontario to her home in British Columbia.

At the clubs, she talked about goal setting at different levels and enjoying the process, as well as how to manage distractions, like nerves, on the start line. “I tried to convey the message that everyone has to start somewhere but if you’re willing to work hard, rowing can take you as far as you can imagine,” explained the three-time Olympian.

“Darcy spoke about the power of the team bond to motivate her through the many challenges rowing provides,” said Neala MacDonald, Edmonton Rowing Club, Director of Youth Programs. “Darcy struck all the right chords to encourage these young athletes.”

This program is in full swing throughout the school year, and many thanks to the Olympians and Paralympians working with RCA to build grassroots rowing at our member clubs. Partnership with Sport Canada has helped make this fledgling program a success!

Members of clubs and schools who want to find out more about Irow Champions and the resources available, please contact Colleen Miller – colleenmiller@rowingcanada.org.

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