Health and safety is top priority as postponement of 2020 Olympics impacts Balmy Beach Club athletes

Members of the Canadian women’s K4 team that had qualified the boat for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were Courtney Stott (from the Balmy Beach Club), Lissa Bissonette, Natalie Davidson, and Michelle Russell. Photo by Bence Vekassy, courtesy Canoe Kayak Canada.

By MARY BETH DENOMY

The decision to move the 2020 Olympics to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic has had a direct effect on a number of elite Balmy Beach Club (BBC) Olympic and Paralympic contenders.

Last fall, two paddlers qualified their boats for Tokyo, including Nick Matveev a member of the men’s Canadian K4 (kayak, four-person crew) and Courtney Stott who is a member of the women’s K4.  Andrea Nelson qualified for the Paralympics in paracanoe.

Elite kayakers Cameron Lowe and Eric Ellery are also in the hunt for an open spot on the Olympic team.  And, past Paralympian Erica Scarff is poised to secure a position.

“This is a very emotional time for our athletes,” said BBC Commodore Eleanor McIntyre.  “Especially when our athletes have had their eye on the prize for so long.”

“However, competitors at this level have spent years training mentally and physically,” she added. “Sport teaches you to deal with adversity and move forward – they are so resilient.”

Nick Matveev commented on Instagram saying, “The goal is still the same but we’ll have to be patient for now.”

Canoe Kayak Canada (CKC), the paddlers national governing body, “applauded the leadership” of the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

They supported the “decisive action to protect the health and well-being of our athletes and the community” and noted it was a “difficult but necessary decision to not attend” the Games as currently scheduled.

The news capped a stressful time for local paddlers as their Florida Training Camp and Team Trials were cancelled prior to the Olympic announcement.

However, the Club is pleased the new date is one year away in 2021.

“Now that the uncertainty is removed, we are happy to have a full-year proper training cycle to prepare,” added McIntyre.  “Everyone knows what they need to do.”

With gyms and training facilities closed and it being too early to get on the water, the athletes are finding unique ways to keep connected and in peak condition under the current circumstances.

Some Club paddling equipment has been temporarily moved to their home gyms.  And, local clubs are participating in fun motivational online conditioning challenges.

“We will be ready for 2021,” said McIntyre.


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