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 – https://bobfoulkesadventures.com/2014/03/02/the-road-to-ravenna-part-1/ – was an eyeopener. It 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.
Others 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.
What 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.