Aug 19,2014(ISN) – VICTORIA – This fall will mark the 7th Annual Vikes Championship Breakfast event, which raises funds for student-athlete scholarships. Not only is one of the biggest opportunities for supporters to donate to a specific team but also it is largely unique because the University of Victoria is committed to match for the first $200,000 raised. This year former Vikes rower and three-time Olympian Darcy Marquardt will be on site at McKinnon Gym, Sept. 30, as the keynote speaker.
“Student-athletes are already balancing a lot on their plates between studies, training and competition,” said Marquardt, who rowed on the varsity crew from 1999-2002. “Financial awards allows them to balance a little less on their plates when you alleviate some of the financial stress. Maybe they can work fewer hours at a part-time job or not have to work at all, and it allows them to feel successful in both their studies and their varsity sport.”
Marquardt began as a novice for the Vikes in 1997 and by 2002 had made the Canadian national team. With the Vikes, Marquardt won gold at the Canadian University Rowing Championship in 2001 in the women’s pair and eight, was part of Rowing Canada’s Crew of the Year and won multiple Royal Canadian Henley golds.
“Going on my first international rowing trip to the UK in 2000, after securing my Varsity spot through a rigorous selection process,” was Marquardt’s response when asked about her favourite student-athlete moment at UVic. “We raced at the women’s Henley and famous Royal Henley regattas in Henley and got to go see Stonehenge. My first trip to Europe!”
The Ring Road campus is where it all began for the now Olympic silver medalist (London 2012) and world champion. Darcy was also recently elected as a member of the BC Chapter of Olympians Canada, where she will serve in a leadership role to promote the Olympic Spirit nationwide, motivate and encourage youth, and celebrate and honour all those who have represented Canada at the Olympic Games.
“My biggest accomplishments as part of the National Rowing team took place on the same body of water in England on Lake Dorney,” remembers Marquardt. “In 2006, my rowing partner, Jane Thornton, and I won the World Championships in the women’s pair event and got to sing Oh Canada on the podium! Six years later I would again get to stand on that same podium, this time at the 2012 London Olympic Games with my teammates from the women’s eight, to receive silver medals around our necks – a very special place indeed.”
There is no doubt that UVic played an important role in Marquardt’s successes as long-time women’s rowing head coach Rick Crawley has played a critical role in several Olympic careers.
“Under Rick’s guidance, I learned how to row well in small boats, weight lift properly in the gym and develop a really good base fitness. He was the one to encourage me to try out for the team, but he also ran his training program similar to the National team’s so it made for a smoother transition.”
To date the Vikes Championship Breakfast has raised over $2.4 million dollars for student-athlete financial awards. Since the inaugural event in 2008, the list of keynote speakers has ranged from former Vikes, inspiring Olympians and sports-health enthusiasts. The list has included former Vikes basketball player Chris Hebb, Canada’s most decorate Paralympian, swimmer Stephanie Dixon, and acclaimed author Dr. Paul E. Zehr.