The Road to Ravenna – Part 2

At the start of the new year, I set out to achieve something I had never hoped possible. I tried out for a team representing Canada in an International Dragon Boat championship in September in Ravenna, Italy. The False Creek Racing Canoe Club won the right to send a Senior C – over 60 – team of men and women to the event. At the age of 65, that would be the ultimate for a late blooming athlete. Six of us from our club – the EH team – tried out. A camp in early May would subject each participant to a series of tests. The best would be chosen, the rest would go home.

Our first tryout camp in February – – was an eyeopener. photo-15 copyIt was tough. Everyone was focused, committed and willing to work hard to make the team. I was long shot Bob, but it was worth the discomfort. I learned a lot about paddling technique – Kamini, our coach is unrelenting; an Olympian, she sets Olympic standards for us. The bar was set high.

Others went out in winter weather in OC-1’s ( a pencil-thin canoe with a small outrigger – a volatile, slippery and frightfully unstable bullet that makes a sea kayak look like a winnebago). In an instant of distraction, you end up in icy water; a complicated maneuver worthy of a Cirque de Soleil contortionist and you’re back in – or you go back in the water until you get it right. I kept meaning to master the OC-1 – memories of going in the water after overturning sea kayaks and a vivid imagination that stoked my fears – well, I just put it off.

photo-19Others cleared their schedule, focused on the goal and persevered through a monotonous regime of weight sessions, paddling sessions, special camps and other tortures. I had booked a vacation adventure to Turkey for three weeks in April, just before tryout camp. I chose Turkey over tryout.

In the end, I withdrew from the tryout camp. It would be a waste of everyone’s time. I would be foolish to attempt the OC-1 time trial. I had lost much of my strength while enjoying the sites and sights (not to mention the fabulous food) of Turkey. I didn’t pay the price of admission and I didn’t deserve to make the team.

That is why I have come to like sports this late in my life. Sports represents a challenge that is pure and honest. Do the work, make the effort, suffer the pain, face the challenge and the results will affirm your commitment and your dedication.

photo-21What is most pleasing is that the other five made the team. Marvin, Peter, Ann, Helen and Wayne paid the price, did the work; they persevered. They honoured the challenge by suiting up, showing up and achieving the prize. They deserve the False Creek jersey they will wear in Ravenna; they deserve to proudly represent Canada on the world stage.

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