Mark De Jonge will be representing Canada at the Rio Olympic Games in Canoe-Kayak Sprint. If your experience with canoes and kayaks is limited to fun times at the cottage or trips at summer camp, this event might take you by surprise. It’s definitely not a leisurely day on the lake. On his blog, Mark says, “Take a second and snap your fingers. The winner of my race is decided by 1/1000th of this second. Hold your breath as long as you can. My race started and is already over. And I paddled over 100 strokes.”
Canoe-Kayak requires coordination, agility, balance, and strength.
This will be Mark’s second Olympic Games. He won gold and bronze at the 2015 PanAm Games in Toronto and defended his title at the 2-15 World Championships in Milan. Get to know more about Mark below and then cheer him on with your kids!
When did you first realize you loved your sport? How did you know?
Almost right away. It was challenging to stay upright in the boat at first, and I set goals every day. First to stay upright and then to get faster. I was drawn to the challenge the sport brought.
What is one way, outside of sport, that being physically literate has helped you?
It’s hard to say because I’ve always been involved in sports so everything I’ve done has been impacted by that. It’s allowed me to be in tune with my body and connect with the world around me. It has also allowed me to know when I need to rest and balance my life better.
When you aren’t participating in your sport, what is your favourite way to be active?
Running, biking, hiking. Being active outdoors.
Tell us one thing you remember your parents doing that encouraged you or helped you to keep active.
We did a lot of camping and canoeing. My parents also encouraged my siblings and I to be involved in organized sports.
What’s the most important thing you can share with the kids who look up to you?
Know why you are doing your sport. I believe it’s important for kids to participate in lots of different activities, but if you are focusing on one sport you should know why. Hopefully, you are doing what you enjoy.