Gauthier paddles back

LYNNE BERMEL

, Last Updated: 1:33 PM ET

"I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody."

Kristin Gauthier wasn't about to look back on her life like the Marlon Brando character Terry, an ex-prizefighter, in the Academy Award-winning On The Waterfront.

But eight years ago, that looked like where she was headed.

Gauthier was frustrated. The then-20-year-old member of the Rideau Canoe Club had dedicated four years to competitive kayaking, but felt like she was paddling against the current.

She had yet to make a national team and her goal of competing in the Olympics was a pipe dream. Maybe it was time to quit.

"I just was falling short and thought, maybe it's time for me to hang up my paddle and focus on school," Gauthier recalls.

So she spent the next two years off the water and in the human kinetics lab at the University of Ottawa.

Another two years later, she realized she had unfinished business and decided to get back to paddling while continuing her studies.

"I didn't want to look back years down the road and wonder what could have been if I had tried just a bit harder. I felt like I had given up on my dream, and it wasn't a feeling that I could settle with," she says.

"A strong part of me missed being on the water every day. I started training with more passion and was really enjoying being out there."

Still, Gauthier admits it was a long climb back, fraught with frustration and doubt.

But in 2005, she made the national team and competed in her first senior world championship in Croatia.

"Taking a break from the sport and competitive racing really helped to put things in perspective," she says.

Gauthier hasn't looked back, winning multiple national titles and several international medals, including three in K-4 at World Cups this summer.

Gauthier also represented Canada in the Beijing Olympics in both the K-2 and K-4 500 metres.

"Although we didn't perform as well as we expected to, the whole experience served as a big motivator," she says. "I returned from Beijing more focused and excited to train than before."

Gauthier is now one of Canada's best medal hopes at the world championship Aug. 12-16 in Dartmouth, N.S.

Seven members from the Rideau have made the national team for the worlds (Rhys Hill, Emily Raymond, Andrew Willows, Victoria Tuttle and Angus and Ian Mortimer are the others) -- the most of any club in Canada.

Gauthier is not racing the K-2 to "focus solely on the K-4. We feel a podium finish is definitely within our reach," although it "is a very close field -- the Germans and Hungarians are always top contenders."

Gauthier and Genevieve Orton, Emilie Fournel and Mylanie Barre will be racing both the 500 and 200.

The benefit of racing on home water and the addition coach Scott Oldershaw -- who also has been guiding Olympic champ Adam van Koeverden -- could give the Canadians the edge.

Taking on ringette worlds

Five area athletes will play for the Canada East team at the world junior ringette championship in Prague Aug. 4-8: Sisters Kelsey and Kaitlyn Youldon, Alex Bateman, Dominique Scapillatti and Jayme Simzer.

Lions to Pan Ams

Ottawa Lions Rachel Aubry and Oluwasegun Makinde are headed to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, next weekend for the Pan American junior championships. Aubrey is racing the 800 metres, while Makinde is competing in the 100 and 200.

Hotspurs kickin' it up

Rachelle Beanlands, Haisha Contave and Melisa Erturk of the Nepean Hotspurs Harriers U-17 team have been selected to play for Ontario at the Canadian championship in Laval, Que.

Ottawa cyclists on roll

Alex Cataford won gold, while Ottawa Bicycle Club teammate Marc-Antoine Labelle took silver in the Ontario cadet men's cycling championship in Ottawa last weekend.

LYNNEBERMEL@ROGERS.COM


Videos

Photos