A Canadian Olympic Gold medalist, who trained at Elk/Beaver Lake and lives in Saanich, expressed disappointment with the news that the community won’t be the future training for current and future Olympic athletes.
“I’m very disappointed to see the national team leave … Saanich and the Capital Regional District,” said Adam Kreek, who won Olympic Gold in 2008 as part of Canada’s men’s eights, the most prestigious rowing category. “Rowing Canada has a strong Olympic legacy in the community.”
At the same time, he said that he supports and respects the process of the decision making committee, adding that this move must have been a very difficult choice.
Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) announced Wednesday that North Cowichan will host its future national training centre, with national team athletes training at Quamichan Lake. Rowing Canada plans to establish a permanent national training centre in the area by October 2020. Saanich’s bid from the Victoria City Rowing Club (VCRC) was one of five communities on the shortlist.
“None of the sites were hands-down winners,” he said. “I think it was a difficult choice.” In the end, the winning bid offered room to grow, a larger lake, and what Kreek calls “fervent” community support.
“The biggest factor that Elk/Beaver Lake could not meet was priority access,” said Jennifer Walinga, who chaired Rowing Canada’s selection committee. “It’s a really busy lake,” she said. In other words, Saanich could not offer the kind of access necessary to avoid competing against other users, a point that Kreek acknowledged.
“Quamichan Lake is a bigger lake,” he said. “Speedboats won’t wake down rowers and interrupt training.”
But Kreek also pointed out several drawbacks of the North Cowichan. It will require new training and support facilities and resources currently available through the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence, which Kreek calls an “amazing resource.”
This said, Kreek believes that rowing will retain a presence in the region. “We have a very strong legacy of this sport that will survive with the [University of Victoria Vikes] rowing program, VCRC juniors, and masters program,” he said. Walinga also said junior national teams will retain a presence in the region.
Kreek said he would like to see some sort of memorial to commemorate the Olympic medals that were earned through the training on Elk/Beaver Lake to “respect the athletes that spent countless hours on the water and inspire future generations of athletes to reach for their athletic potential.”