Welcome to the CAN Fund Athlete Blog!
This is where Canadian Athletes will be posting as they train and prepare to represent Canada on the World Stage! Keep up to date on when and where our athletes are training and competing!

Monday, February 28, 2011


Well, no news can mean many things... However this time it just means that I've been too busy enjoying Brazil to take time out to write an update.

I was home for just two weeks after Miami OCR before heading to Brazil. I was absolutely drained when I came home from the long bout of intense training and racing, and thus all I did during my first week was recover.  For week 2 I was back training, both in the gym and I got one great day on the water: sunny, windy (25-30knots), big-ish waves, fresh snow on the mountains, and yes... T'was a bit chilly too. 7 degrees plus wind chill meant extreme pain in the hands once the thawing process began onshore. Knowing that I was coming to Brazil a few days later, I couldn't really complain about anything!

On February 14th I flew to Rio, via Toronto and San Paolo. Once in Rio, I was picked up by Davidson, the taxi driver who all of us windsurfers use to shuttle us back and forth to Buzios. I had met him in 2006 and he was my tour guide then for a day in Rio, so it was great to be met by a familiar and friendly face at the airport. A very long day of traveling, but well worth it! Following the 3 hour drive, we arrived to Bimba's Windsurf Club in Buzios, aka... Paradise!

The next morning, bright and early (about 5am my time) I was on the water with the training group. Marina from Spain, Bryony from the UK, Laura from Italy, Jazmin from Argentina, a few Brazilian youth guys, and myself. Windy and warm, it was a nice start to my training in Brazil. The next 4 days were quite windy, tiring all of us out. To vary it up in training we did some destination sails - sailing around 4 different islands, to a secret surf spot that you can only get to by boat and of course the usual board handling drills.

Week two saw a change in weather (stifling hot and little breeze) and our training group shrank as some left to go back home for a bit, while some of the guys had a competition to attend.  We trained early in the morning, guys and girls together for some pumping sessions. Alex, the Spanish coach was creative in his drills and made it really quite fun for us - as we did match racing with/against the guys and other good drills. Short and intense sessions were great cause the crazy heat made all of us quite slow and lazy on land. On top of the on water training, it was quite challenging to fit in gym and cardio training in the heat, but when the day was all done, bedtime was incredibly welcoming.

I've had a few days off and a bunch of us went sightseeing around the Buzios peninsula with a rented "Bugre". There are so many beautiful spots and beaches to explore here, leaving no doubt to why it is the weekend destination of the rich of Rio. Geriba beach, the beach directly on the opposite side of the peninsula to where we sail from has been pumping with waves. Many days after sailing we'd go there for a surf. We've had several group dinners - either freshly caught fish by Bimba's (the Brazilian windsurfer's) brother or just meat Brazilian style. Good times! Attached are a bunch of pics. None of sailing though. Hard to take those myself :)

I can't believe it's already been two weeks of training here, with two more to go before I head home.  Time is flying...



Reid and Grether Settle for Silver in Iran
While you hear daily about the unrest in the Middle East, Nicole Grether and I experienced a different side of Iran on the badminton courts.

Nicole and I traveled to Tehran to join players from over 30 countries to compete in the 21st Fajr Iran International Badminton Tournament.  While the players had to adapt both on and off the court to the culture we experienced the kindness of the Iranian players and the joy of sport.

It was a new experience for us not to have a mixed double event at an individual BWF tournament and to compete with only women or men in the hall at one time. During our matches the women did not wear a head scarf while competing, therefor the men were not allowed to watch the women play. The spectators were great as they were cheering us on and you could see they enjoyed watching the matches.

It was a bit challenging for us compete in Tehran as the capital is 1200 meters above sea level. This makes it harder to breathe because of the altitude, and also makes the shuttlecocks faster. As well the women only played one session a day making it difficult to recover properly in a short period of time. On Thursday and Friday we played 3 matches in just over 3 hours.

Away from competing on the courts on Friday there was a peaceful demonstration down the street from our hotel. The players were told to stay in their rooms until it was over just in case. They changed the schedule for the quarter finals and semi-finals, and started them after the demonstration later that evening. Although we had security guards watching over us, we were not allowed to go too far from the hotel or badminton hall until the last day when we were lucky to get a chance to see the city after the finals.

After Nicole and I won seven tournaments in a row our winning streak came to an end in the finals as we had to settle for the silver medal. We defeated two Iranian teams and a Turkish team to reach the finals and lost in a close match 21-17, 22-20 to Nimeshika Ratnasiri Achini and Samanthika Weerasasinghe Upuli from Sri Lanka.  In singles action I reached the quarter finals and Nicole had a great win in the semi-finals defeating Anne Hald and then capturing the gold with a win against Nair Dhanya from India.

It was a special experience to compete in Iran and we found the hospitality of the players and organisers to be superb.

Our next major tournaments are the All England’s Premier Super Series in Birmingham followed by the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold in Basel starting March 8. We are currently #17 in the world.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


We were so happy to be on our way to Australia about to start our winter training camp with a new boat. Of course, things rarely go perfectly to plan. We get to Australia, and due to some “complications” at the factory, we find out over the next few days that our boat would not be coming. Fortunately, we have some generous teammates; Cam Smedley and Ben Hayward, who let us use their C2 for the entire time here. We are definitely lucky that they brought their C2.
Moving to more exciting news, this was our first trip to Australia for training and it certainly did not disappoint. The course in Penrith, used for the 2000 Olympics is absolutely incredible. Training on a world class whitewater course in February, with most of the top paddlers in the world, in weather that hovers around 30-40°C has undoubtedly been great for the development of our skills and comfort on whitewater. Usually we wouldn’t be getting onto whitewater back home until March, it would be freezing, and not the same level of difficulty. This year we have a head start and on top of that, 2 races under our belt!
 We had our first set of races within 4 days of arriving in Australia. This consisted of 2 races during which we had a mix of results. The first wasn’t the greatest, however, our second day of racing yielded some good results, with a 4th place finish, behind the hometown Australian boat, and two Italians, one of which was the bronze medalist from the Beijing Olympics.

The second race, the Australian Open took place on our last weekend in Australia and was certainly what we were building up to during the training camp. Times were tight in the qualifier that had a fairly open course, with the exception of 2 trickier moves. After a mediocre first run, we were sitting in 17th place and looking to move up in the standings with a second run. Unfortunately this didn’t exactly go to plan. We came out of the gates flying on our second run doing all of the moves quickly and cleanly and were set on putting down a fast time. We, however, had a momentary lapse in concentration at the finish line of the race, flipping and drifting over the finish beam upside down. Unfortunately, this would mean that our time; which would have put us in 11th place, did not count. Nevertheless, our first run still qualified for the semi-finals in 19th place. The semi-final/final course was changed completely overnight and we re-focussed in preparation. Our race in the semis again, was decent, but not overly spectacular. We both agreed that at the end of the run we weren’t overly tired, when at the end of your race, you should be completely gassed.  We just needed to up the tempo a bit and kick it into the next gear.

Thanks for teammate Adrian Cole for taking the great race pictures!
As we were also in Australia for the first time, training wasn’t the only thing on our minds. On our time off, we did a fair amount of sightseeing, taking in the famous sights of Sydney such as the Opera house, walked through the botanic gardens, and the harbour front. We also went on a spectacular hike in the Blue Mountains, and did a little bit of surfing at the famous Manly and Maroubra beaches.
To sum it up, this trip was a huge benefit to our development this year and to give us a head start going into the summer racing season. We will definitely repeat the trip next year, perhaps a little longer next time. Now it’s time to buckle down, finish the school semester and look forward to the upcoming paddling season.
Jamie and Adam


 As 2012 approaches, Judo Canada athletes are getting ready for their final season of qualifying competitions. Most recently, many of the national team members returned from their European tour.  The tour consisted of three world cups, one grand slam, and one grand prix (not in that specific order).

Team Canada began the tour strong as Marylise Levesque from Quebec in the under 78kg division took gold in Sofia, Bulgaria. This was her first ever world cup victory and it has brought her even closer to the qualification spot.  As the team moved through Europe, their next spot was Grand Slam Paris, one of the strongest competitions besides the world championships.  This years Grand Slam Paris had a record breaking attendance which made the competition even stronger.  With no medals being won, the team still had a successful performance attaining four ninth place finishes and one fifth.  Sasha Mehmedovic (Athlete's Now Fund recipient) and Michal Popiel in the under 66kg division, Frazer Will in the under 60kg division, and Marylise Levesque in the under 78kg division all finished 9th while Joliane Melancon (Athlete's Now Fund recipient) finished fifth.  From Paris, the men's team moved to Budapest, Hungary and the women's team moved to Vienna, Austria.  Amy Cotton in the under 78kg division finished second while Kelita Zupancic (Athletes Now Fund recipient) in the under 70kg division finished fifth.

On the men's side, Sasha Mehmedovic and Antoine Valois-Fortier were the top Canadians finishing in the top ten position. In the final competition of the circuit, Amy Cotton in the under 78kg division represented the women's team strong as she took third place in Prague, Czech Republic.  As the tour came to an end, many of the national team members were glad to be home after a long trip.  Next on the agenda are the Pan-american Championships held in Mexico in April.

Sasha Mehmedovic
Canadian Athletes Now Fund Rep

Saturday, February 26, 2011


An exciting February has passed for the Canadian Mens' Water Polo Team. We kicked off an intensive travel schedule for 2011 by going to Hungary for joint training sessions with a top club team in Szeged and the Hungarian National Team in Budapest followed by the 2011 Volvo Cup in Miskolc. It was a grueling schedule until the competition, highlighted by bus trips around Hungary.

The competition in Hungary is fierce and since water polo is the national sport, the crowds were dense and vocal. Along with Canada and Hungary, Australia and Germany contended for the Volvo Cup. Our young squad was joined by our three overseas Canucks who play professionally in Eger, Hungary and Budva, Montenegro. With a shoulder injury forcing captain Aaron Feltham out of the pool, yours truly accepted the interim captaincy. Although the final result of the tournament was three losses, the team gained some valuable experience and was able to develop the strategy that will help us at this year's FINA World Championships as well as Pan American Games, our Olympic Qualifier.

From Hungary, your faithful goaltender and sometimes captain,

Robin Randall
Goaltenders' Union President
Dictated but not read

Thursday, February 17, 2011

DAVID FORD- Canoe/Kayak

 As in most years for the past decade the paddling world has converged on Australia for warm weather training and a start to the racing season.
For me this means an opportunity to paddle with the best slalom paddlers in the sport and not only test my skills but also learn some new things that keep the sport fresh. This has really been the secret to longevity in our sport, the willingness to learn and expand as both an athlete and as a person. In my 26 years on the Nationals team I have seen my sport go from a non-Olympic event (we were pulled from the Games after 1972) to a once again full fledged member of the Olympic program. In that time the sport has evolved and grown and I have had to grow with it.
This growth will certainly make this an interesting race. I have been working very hard on “modernizing” my technique, working with current world champion Danniele Molmenti and 2009 World Champion Peter Kauzer trying to tap into what it is that makes them the top athletes in our sport. I have also designed a new boat for this year with an eye on the London Olympic course and it is becoming quite a popular design. I haven’t felt this balanced in my boat in a few years and it is nice to be comfortable in such a dynamic sport that requires you to be at one with your equipment. On the flip side I decided to test a new paddle design this week and while I really like the power this paddle gives me, I am far from “at one” with the paddle and it catches me off guard from time to time. I should be fine for the race but you never know what might come up with a new paddle. Fingers crossed.
To be competitive in any sport today you need support, flights, rental cars, equipment and site access fees not to mention the thousands of calories you need to consume every week really add up. I was reminded today how important the CAN FUND is to my efforts when I was surprised to learn that I had to pay the entry fee for the first major international competition of the year myself. A small thing on the face of it but without this crucial support not only would I not be able to be here to train, I wouldn’t even be able to race for my country.
I am also very lucky to have my wife, Olympic Alpine Skier Kelly VanderBeek here in Australia with me. She is still recovering from a devastating knee injury that happened just before last years Olympic Games in Vancouver. Everything looks great but a second surgery was required and she is recovering here in Australia and supporting me at the river. Quite a treat for us as typically at this time of year we are on different continents, me in plus 40 weather and Kelly deep in minus temperatures. We are definitely trying to make the most of a trying situation.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The forecast had it to be very light winds for the medal races at MORC. I was prepared for the day and really looking forward to the pump off, however, weather will be weather and surprisingly the wind was much more than anticipated - and shifting. The race before us had been abandoned due to a massive shift right.

I didn't have a good start. My centerboard came up partially as I was pumping off the line (which made me slide sideways) and thus I lost my lane quite quickly and had to tack out to the right. 5 other girls ended up going to the right with me, however, I was the last to tack, and ended up overlaying the top mark by a long shot (a potential combination of more current on the right and an even bigger right shift)  Sailing all that extra distance had me round the top mark in a distance 10th, and for the rest of the race I worked to catch up. The wind was dropping quickly and they ended up shortening the second windward leg by half the distance and thus my opportunity to catch up also shrunk in half. I did end up minimizing the distance to the girls in front of me to end up finishing a very close 10th. Needless to say, that race did not move me up the rankings and thus I finished 10th overall in the regatta.

Although I lost many points here, there and everywhere throughout the regatta, my end result of 10th doesn't truly capture how well I was sailing. I was up in the top 5 many a races and now it's just about becoming more consistent, minimizing the damage, so it's looking very promising for future races.

I had an incredible team that supported me in Miami - coaching me was my 2008 Olympic coach Jason Rhodes. The Canadian Sailing Team also had the "IST" - Integrated Support Team on site, which included James - Physiologist, Alicia - Athletic Therapist and Colin - Sports Psych - all from the Canadian Sport Centre's from across the country. Any and all ailments were fixed by Alicia, James was on the coach boat with Jason everyday and for the first time since starting to work together over a year ago, he got to see me in action along side all the others. Both Jason and James were able to pick up many technique subtleties and points that I need to work on. Very helpful. Blood lactates and blood sugar levels were measured before and after races - helping James get a better understanding of the physical demands of the sport on race day and over the duration of a 6 day long regatta, and hence being able to advise me of the recovery techniques I need to do each day, one of which included having ice baths for a whole 10 minutes! Brrrr. But oh so good after. Check out the pictures!

AND...My top Canadian placing at MORC had me qualify myself for the PAN AMERICAN GAMES this October in Mexico!!!

I just arrived back home to Vancouver. I'll be taking a break for a few days before I get back into training at the end of the week, both on and off the water.  My next stop is in Buzios, Brazil from February 14th to March 15th for some training with Marina Alabau from Spain and Bryony Shaw from GBR, both ranked in the top 5 and first and second place finishers at MORC - should be good training :)