Fri, September 20, 2013

Mark Oldershaw has Olympics in his blood

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Canada's Mark Oldershaw competes in the canoe single (C1) 1000m men's semifinals during the London 2012 Olympic Games, at Eton Dorney Rowing Centre in Eton, west of London, on August 6, 2012. AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER


LONDON - He didn’t have an ounce of energy to think about it as he attacked the water from 1,000 metres from the right side of his canoe.

But Mark Oldershaw had plenty of family members to cherish the significance of what he did in advancing to an Olympic final on Monday morning.

If you aren’t aware of the Oldershaw name and their deep attachment to canoe-kayak, you don’t know the sport in Canada.

Mark’s father Scott coaches both his son and star kayaker, Adam van Koeverden. He has two uncles who were Olympians and then there was the father of the family fascination with the sport, grandfather Bert.

With his father beaming in the background, Oldershaw talked about the historical significance of what he was able to do 64 years after the story began.

“To do it back here in London, where my grandfather started the whole thing, is pretty special for me,” Oldershaw said. “It feels good to get the name back in the final again. He started my whole family tradition of the Olympic Games in London in 1948. It’s been awesome. My whole family has kind of rallied around ane everyone is being super supportive and celebrating the whole thing.”

Oldershaw was certainly enjoying it Monday morning on a number of levels. For starters, he joined his grandfather as the only family member to advance to an Olympic final. And most importantly, he recovered from a traumatic experience four years ago in which he was so nervous that he lost his stroke in his Olympic debut.

This time, he was strong throughout and finished second in his semi-final to move on to the medal race where he has a fighting shot of reaching the podium.

“I feel really good,” Oldershaw said. “I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t make the final again and be a huge disappointment to everyone, but I just stuck to my race this time because I knew I was as fast or faster than all of these guys. If I just do my thing and not panic I’ll be fine.”

Oldershaw admits he beat himself up pretty badly after Beijing, mainly because his form coming in suggested he should make the final. But some athletes relish their Olympic introduction and others struggle with it.

“I just had to sit down and realize why not making a final at a race in China meant so much to me,” Oldershaw said. “How did that affect me so much? How could I put so much of my happiness on one race? I don’t think that’s healthy and I don’t think it helped me race at all.

“I love canoeing. But at the same time, I have to have balance in my life and can’t put everything on one race. I took the whole fall (to get over it.)”

At times in Beijing, it was ugly. The power that Oldershaw clearly possesses was short-circuited by the sense of panic.

“Any time you are overly nervous, it affects your muscles,” Scott Oldershaw said. “You tense up and it has a small effect on every stroke you take. With that many strokes in a race, it adds up. You just tighten up before you should.”

“An Olympic final is a big deal. He failed to make the final in Beijing so that’s hanging over your head, but the pressure’s off now and I think he’ll perform better because of it.”

And perhaps provide the best Oldershaw Olympic moment yet.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/longleysunsport

Mark Oldershaw is a third generation and fifth member of his family to compete at the Olympics in canoe-kayak. The others:

Bert Oldershaw

Mark’s grandfather competed in his first of three Olympics in London back in 1948.

Scott Oldershaw

Mark’s father compted in Los Angeles in 1984

Dean Oldershaw

Mark’s uncle competed in Munich 1972 and March 1976

Reed Oldershaw

Another uncle who competed in March 1976.