Hastings chasing Olympic dream

Olympic hopeful kayaker John Hastings is solidly behind One Change Foundation's blue dot water...

Olympic hopeful kayaker John Hastings is solidly behind One Change Foundation's blue dot water conservation initiative. (Courtesy One Change)

TIM BAINES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:21 PM ET

OTTAWA - A bit more than 11 years ago, John Hastings made a life decision.

While watching the success of Canadian Olympians like Simon Whitfield, Caroline Brunet and Steve Giles at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the then-teenager from Aurora committed himself to becoming an Olympian.

Now he’s knocking at the door, as Canada’s top-ranked kayaker, hoping to compete in London next summer.

“Everyone has their moment, where you see something and say, ‘This is what I want to do.’ That was it for me, watching the 2000 Olympics. It was an epiphany, that ‘aha’ moment for me. It seemed like an unattainable goal, but I stuck with it. It’s been an incredible journey.”

There have been obstacles along the way, like when he didn’t make the Olympic team three years ago.

“I felt like I was entitled to it,” said Hastings, now 27, who moved to Ottawa several years ago. “And when I didn’t make it, I felt like quitting. Fortunately, I had great coaches and a supportive family around me. Guys in my sport traditionally peak in their late 20s and early 30s. I had my Olympic dream, I had made it a goal. I couldn’t quit there.”

He started to make big gains in 2010 after hopping on board the RBC Olympians Program. He took over top spot in Canada and was eighth overall in the World Cup.

“All things are pointing in the right direction for me,” said Hastings. “Only one of us will go to the Olympics. But the qualification (in April) is in Charlotte. I just have to win the trial. I have a strong history there. The competition will be tough. David Ford is a legend. He’s been to five Olympics. And there are some others standing in my way.”

Hastings is solidly behind One Change Foundation’s blue dot initiative, which runs until Nov. 4. The blue dot kits are being distributed door-to-door or can be picked up free at RBC Royal Bank branches.

The blue dot is placed in the tank of a toilet and determines if there is a leak, often caused by a worn-out flapper and easily fixable. Hastings is very much supportive of the plan, which is promoting water conservation.

More than 1.9 billion litres of water are wasted every day in Canadian households. Stats also show that if every leaking toilet in Canada (and there are more than 3.5 million of them) was fixed, the energy saved would be the equivalent of taking 32,873 cars off the road.

“This is a great opportunity for me to get involved and protect the freshwater resource,” said Hastings. “It’s such a simple thing. Drop a tablet into your tank and if it turns blue, you have a leak. And if you get to the nitty gritty of it, Ottawans are wasting $250 a year on their water.”

In Hastings’ dream, he wins the upcoming trials, competes at the Olympics and wins a medal.

It’s the power of positive thinking, but he knows that on any given day, with weather and water influencing the result, it could happen.

And maybe then, somewhere in Canada, a child will draw inspiration on his performance, perhaps setting the wheels in motion for another future Olympian to emerge.

“If what I do gets one kid off the couch, then I’ll really feel like I’ve accomplished something,” he said.

It will have come full circle ... Olympians inspiring other Canadians. And proving that dreams really can come true.


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