Victoria’s Coen del Valle is gearing up to paddle his way to the top of the Western Canada Summer Games in Alberta in August.
The 18-year-old is the only male sprint kayaker from Victoria to land on Team B.C.
“I was really excited,” said Coen about being named to the team. “I knew it was going to be close for me making the team. But when I saw the announcement I was pretty stoked. It’s pretty much been my goal since 2013 to be on this team.”
For the del Valle family, kayaking has become a family affair — his older brother also competed at the Canadian Sprint CanoeKayak Championships and his mother Rhys is his coach.
“You’re bringing in a different dynamic. You’ve already got this familiar dynamic and you’re layering it with something completely different. It gets complicated as a parent,” said Rhys, who was coached her son for the past three years with the Chinook Racing Canoe Club.
“It’s difficult, it’s a lot harder than having someone else coach you,” he said. “I take things more personally with her whereas with other coaches it’s like ‘oh, they’re just coaching me’.”
But that hasn’t stopped Coen from climbing to the top with the help of his mother’s coaching skills.
In 2013, del Valle was named an alternate for the Canada Summer Games and competed at nationals in 2013 and 2014.
“Coen is determined and that’s hugely important for an athlete. I love his determination because that can overcome [anything],” Rhys added. “He’s got lots of promise ahead.”
Currently, Coen is practicing 10 to 12 times a week at the Fairway Gorge Paddling Club in preparation for his first appearance at a multi-sport competition.
“I should be able to compete well and get some medals,” he said, noting he could compete in the single, double and team CanoeKayak races.
The young athlete set his sights even higher for the future.
“If I’m not going to go to the Olympics, I at least want to go to a World Cup or World Championship,” he said. “Olympics are the dream.”
The Western Canada Summer Games are held every four years and brings together more than 2,500 athletes from the four western provinces and three northern territories to compete in 18 sports.
Coen will compete in Wood Buffalo from Aug. 7-16.