Better late than never: Canadian men’s quad qualifies for Rio Olympics

A long, gruelling and uncertain winter of training on Elk Lake has paid off for the men’s quad, which has qualified as the seventh and final Canadian boat for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.

Victoria-based Rowing Canada had qualified six boats through the 2015 world championships. But the men’s quadruple sculls failed in that quest last year and wasn’t among them. That blemish, however, was rectified Tuesday when the Canadian quad finished second in the last-chance Olympic qualifying race held in Lucerne, Switzerland. The top-two from the race, Russia and Canada, qualified for the Rio Olympics.

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The Canadian quad consists of Will Dean, who represents Brentwood College, Rob Gibson, a 2012 London Olympics silver medallist in the eight, Pascal Lussier of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and Julien Bahain, a dual citizen and 2008 Beijing Olympic bronze medallist for France, who relocated to Victoria.

“It’s been a short and long year, in the sense of the pressure,” said Dean, in a statement.

“We spent a lot of time trying to just focus on the process of what we’re doing and not the result. It’s not until after it’s over that you realize what you’ve done.”

Dean said he appreciated the assistance, both moral and physical, all winter in training on Elk Lake.

“I’ve never felt more support from the Canadian rowing community,” he said. “Everyone was in our corner.”

The men’s quad lineup is set for Rio, with Canada joining Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Switzerland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia on the start line.

The 2016 Canadian Olympic rowing team, now officially numbering seven boats, will compete this week in World Cup II in Lucerne, the second of three pre-Olympic regattas. Canada won four medals at World Cup I last month in Varese, Italy, which bode well for the Rio Games.

World Cup III is June 17-19 in Poznan, Poland.

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