Claudia Van Wijk
Co-owner of OWL Rafting
2008 Olympic Slalom Commentator
LONDON Olympics had me commentating out loud from a picnic bench on the Canadian side of the Atlantic Ocean – watching the Games via turbo stick at the mouth of the St Lawrence River this year was a new experience for me. Live streaming brought me to the edge of the newly constructed Lee Valley whitewater course, as if I too was one of the 12,000 spectators cheering on the small no. of athletes in the four race disciplines. To earn a spot at the 2012 Games, each country had to have qualified amongst the top 14 nations at last season’s World Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia. Canada had one competitor racing at the Games, this in Mens Kayak – the young Michael Tayler of Ottawa, who earned the spot back in April in Charlotte, NC – squeezing out John Hastings by 1/100th of a second. John whose roots in the sport were seeded at MKC has been Canada’s top competitor in recent years, deserving an Olympic experience– which is why I passed on my broadcast position to him back in April.
Highlights for me were:
Vavra Hadlicek, styling it through the new start blocks with momentum giving him decisive power into the 20 gate course– he then threw a big “Brown Claw” (the extreme paddlers “Good Sh—” symbol) at the end of his stellar run which has since provided much blogging discussion.
Jessica Fox, 18, daughter of 5x World Champion, Richard Fox (who graced the waters in the ‘80’s as well as having infected many MKC students with the love of whitewater finesse), and Myriam Jerusalmi, (my race buddy back then) – laid down such a solid run in the Finals to sail to Silver.
And finally in the C-2 category – by far the most graceful teamwork possible on water, the British duo of Tim Baille / Etienne Scott overcame unbelievable hurdles; injuries, judging issues and bad luck to get to the Games; then won Britain’s first Gold of the Games.
Spot On …as the Brits would say!