With the B.C. Summer Games just a week away, a pair of kayakers from Clayton Heights Secondary are eager to represent their hometown on the waterways of the Fraser River.
Newbie Devon Holcroft and Elissa Elmadani of the Fort Langley Canoe and Kayak Club have been training five days a week to prepare for the games, set for July 21-24 in Abbotsford and Fort Langley.
The braved time trials in torrential rain at Burnaby Lake May 28 to qualify for Zone 4’s team for the 2016 games. Both athletes were thrilled to learn they were part of the Zone 4 team, coached by Wes Hammer of the Burnaby Canoe and Kayak Club.
The Surrey paddlers have been training under Hammer since qualifying – along with keeping up with the demands of their regular training schedule.
Looking ahead to the summer games, Holcroft and Elmadani are preparing to go paddle-to-paddle against B.C.’s best, including some of their Sprint Club teammates.
Elmadani is competing in sprint kayak, sprint canoe, and slalom in events at Fort Langley.
Her goal is to medal in at least one of her kayaking events.
“Though I will try my best to make it to my goal, I won’t be disappointed with the outcome,” says Elmadani, who’s heading into Grade 10 this September at CHS and is already a veteran Summer Games competitor in addition to picking up a silver medal in speed skating at the 2016 B.C. Winter Games in Penticton.
The 2016 summer kayaking events are being held on the Bedford Channel in Fort Langley, where her club practices.
“We will have a definite advantage compared to the other zones,” she said.
Not surprisingly, both paddlers cite Olympic medalist and Canadian and world champion Adam van Koeverden as an inspiration.
The route to Abbotsford has been relatively short for Holcroft, a Grade 10 honour role student who hung up his hockey skates after eight years last fall to try kayaking.
He began dropping in at the Fort Langley Canoe and Kayak Club’s sprint team to further his interest in kayaking.
When asked to join the sprint team for winter training, he eagerly accepted the challenge, training five days a week with newly-installed head coach, Emily Raymond, former member of the Canadian World Championship team, and an 11-time Canadian spring kayak champion who also coached at the Rideau Canoe Club.