SPORTS

Mark Oldershaw, Canadian canoeist, named Pan Am Games flag-bearer

06/30/2015 04:10 EDT | Updated 06/30/2016 05:59 EDT
Canoe star Mark Oldershaw will lead Canada's largest Pan Am Games team into the opening ceremony at Toronto's Rogers Centre on July 10.

Oldershaw, a 2012 Olympic medallist, was named flag-bearer at Parliament Hill on Canada Day.

"I am bursting with pride at being named Canada's flag-bearer," said Oldershaw.

"As Team Canada marches into the opening ceremony for the Games, I will be thinking of all my teammates and of my grandfather, father and uncles who paved the way for me with their love of sport. I am so thankful for their support and the support of the Team Canada fans."

The 32-year-old Burlington, Ont., native is a third-generation Olympian and the fifth member of his family to compete at the Olympic Games.

Oldershaw's grandfather Bert competed in London (1948), Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956), while his father, Scott, took part in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Bert Oldershaw is in the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004 both as an athlete and builder. Scott Oldershaw continues to coach his son at the Burloak Canoe Club in Oakville, Ont., along with Olympic champion Adam van Koeverden.

But Mark Oldershaw is the only one to capture an Olympic medal, earning a bronze in the C-1 1,000-metre event three years ago in London.

Oldershaw took that momentum to the 2013 world championship in Duisburg, Germany, where he earned a pair of bronze medals in the C-1 5,000m and 4 x C–1 200m.

Junior star and health scare

Oldershaw showed immense promise at the 2001 world junior championship where he won two gold medals. But he acquired his most cherished possession shortly following the competition, when his grandfather gave him the paddle he used at the 1948 London Olympics.

The road to international success wasn't a smooth one for Oldershaw.

In 2003, he developed a non-cancerous tumour in his right hand that required two surgeries. It affected Oldershaw in the ensuing years, as he was forced to miss qualifying for the 2004 Olympics.

1st Pan Am Games

Oldershaw will be competing in his first Pan Am Games and is one of the favourites to capture gold in men's C-1 1,000m.

"It doesn't get more patriotic than the Canadian Olympic Committee celebrating our nation's birthday by announcing our flag-bearer," said Curt Harnett, Toronto 2015 Team Canada chef de mission. 

"The Canadian flag-bearer is selected based on their leadership abilities and their embodiment of sport ideals, and Mark reflects all of these qualities." 

Canoe/Kayak Canada is certainly bringing its A-list team to Toronto.

Aside from Oldershaw, the team includes four-time Olympic medallist van Koeverden (K-1 1,000m) and Olympic bronze medallist and reigning world champion Mark de Jonge (men's K-1 200m).

It total, Canada will have 722 athletes taking part in 36 sports.

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