Every major decision on who to send to to the 2020 Summer Olympics as part of Canada’s national rowing team was made on Quamichan Lake, said Terry Dillon, CEO of Rowing Canada.
Speaking at North Cowichan’s council meeting on July 21, Dillon thanked the municipality and the community for all the support Rowing Canada has received since it decided in 2019 to build its first-ever purpose-built National Training Centre on Quamichan Lake.
Construction of the facility has yet to begin, but Rowing Canada has been training athletes on the lake since the decision was made.
“North Cowichan and the Quamichan community have been critical for our ability to continue to train through the COVID-19 pandemic, both for Tokyo and for some of our young people who are preparing for Paris [which is hosting the summer Olympics in 2024],” Dillon said.
“Having the extra capacity at the lake and the ability to be here has been extraordinarily helpful, and we’re going to be asking and pushing to get more support and more money into the community. Having the opportunity to grow the sport of rowing here and make it more visible is important for us.”
Dillon said Canada has won a total of 41 rowing medals at past Olympics, which is the third highest of any summer sport, behind 60 medals in athletics and 49 in swimming.
“We’re pretty good at rowing so we feel confident about our prospects in Tokyo,” he said.
“Rowing Canada has sent its largest Olympic team to Tokyo [29 athletes and five alternatives] since 1996 in Atlanta and we’re pretty exited about that.”
Mayor Al Siebring, who was wearing a red Rowing Canada Olympic Games t-shirt at the meeting along with most of the rest of council and staff, said he’s happy that North Cowichan is, for the first time, able to cheer on a “home-town” team at the Olympics.
“The decision by Rowing Canada to choose Quamichan Lake as its official training centre was like winning gold for us as a municipality, and we couldn’t be more proud of the athletes,” he said.
“A lot of work went into that decision and [this council] sort of takes credit because it happened in our term, but there is a lot of background and work by other councils and people as well. We’re hoping the sport of rowing can grow in North Cowichan and seeing Canada’s national team strive for gold in Tokyo will, no doubt, sow seeds in the hearts of youth who may want to compete one day.”