Adam van Koeverden is back and it could mean a medal for Canada.
The kayaker came quick out of the gates in his semifinal heat on Monday morning, taking the lead from the outset and not relinquishing it until the finish line to punch his ticket to the K1 1,000m final.
Van Koeverden entered the London games in a much different role than he did at Beijing in 2008. Many will recall that after a solid performance at the 2004 Athens games, van Koeverden, Canada’s flag bearer, was proclaimed to be a virtual lock for a double gold performance in 2008. Your memory no doubt recalls that an eighth place finish and a silver medal left bitterness in the mouths of Canadian fans who expected much more from van Koeverden, whose underwhelming performance underscored a disappointing Beijing games.
The silliness with the rationale that medal favourites are supposed to cash in automatically is pretty evident. The vast majority of human beings on this planet, let alone this country, don’t follow the kayaking circuit particularly closely. Realistically, most of us don’t have a damn clue who the best racers are or who thrives in what situations. Panning van Koeverden for what we deem to be a disappointing performance based on incredibly limited knowledge is many levels of ignorant.
The big names lose, it’s a part of life and it’s certainly a part of sports. Adam van Koeverden being a ‘medal favourite’ means diddly squat in the grand scheme of things. You don’t get medals for being on a shortlist before the games, and stranger things have happened than an upset in kayaking. If David beat Goliath, Adam van Koeverden is allowed to finish eighth. It may seem like an apologist stance, but I would argue it’s a face value look at the situation. It happens. Move on.
That’s what van Koeverden has done.
The 2012 Games will likely be van Koeverden’s last. At 30 years old, you have to wonder how much he has in him and how much longer he can keep it going. Can he manage this at 34? If he can, certainly he can’t at 38, right? It certainly seems to be the reasonable conclusion that this will be the last we see of Adam van Koeverden at an Olympic Games, which makes this race that much more unique. He may have had some lows, but he is one of Canada’s greatest athletes ever and should be treated as such.
Flag bearer, world record holder, world champion, Olympic gold medalist. The list of Canadians to hit those four checkboxes is very, very small. That’s the legacy we’re dealing with here, and this is the Olympic career on display, possibly coming to an end.
Just like 2008, everyone will be out there, paddling like hell. Just like 2008, Adam van Koeverden will be looking to pad his legacy. The difference, four years later, is that eyes will be elsewhere, and perhaps that will tip the scale in his favour.
Adam van Koeverden doesn’t need redemption, be he may end up getting some.