Experience, advice shared with Island Olympic hopefuls ahead of Tokyo Games

Olympic gold-medallist rower Dominic Seiterle remembers the words of advice he received from Marnie McBean, a Canadian gold medallist from a previous generation, before leaving for his first Olympics.

Now it’s Seiterle’s time to pay it forward. He’s among the flotilla of former Victoria Olympians who are imparting their experiences to the next generation of Island-based Summer Olympians preparing with immediacy for Tokyo 2020 and long-term for Paris 2024.

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The forum is sponsored by 94 Forward, the legacy fund from the Victoria Commonwealth Games, and began Thursday and is running through the weekend at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence on the Camosun College Interurban campus.

Among those Olympians imparting words of wisdom to the next generation of potential Olympians are Seiterle, Kyle Hamilton and Kevin Light from the 2008 Beijing gold-medallist Canadian eight, Olympic-medallist rowers Laryssa Biesenthal, Dave Calder, Buffy Williams, Patricia Obee and Lindsay Jennerich, two-time Summer Games rower Anna-Marie de Zwager, Olympic-champion Simon Whitfield and fellow-Games triathlete Caroline Murray, two-time Olympic medallist Ryan Cochrane and fellow swimmer Riley Janes, Olympic runners Gary Reed, Bruce Deacon, Hilary Stellingwerff, Olympic cyclist Erinne Willock and multiple-medallist Paralympics swimmer Stephanie Dixon.

“We are the summer sports capital of Canada and we want to leverage that,” said John MacMillan, president of 94 Forward.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, an eighth-degree black belt in Aikido, was on hand for opening night Thursday.

“This is how knowledge has been passed down since time immemorial and is a method that has withstood the test of time,” said Haynes.

Many Olympians who trained on the Island settled here to live after Among them is Kyle Hamilton, who captained the gold-medallist Canadian eight at Beijing 2008. He is originally from Richmond and is now a litigation lawyer in Victoria.

“We all live here and that’s a useful resource for young athletes on the Island to have access to,” said Hamilton.

“These seminars take advantage of that. I learned from the people who came before me. It all crosses over.”

Dixon and Jennerich agreed.

“It’s nice to share. We have all these years of accumulated knowledge and this is a great opportunity to use it,” said Jennerich.

“It keeps the flame alive.”

Dixon will keep it alive in a highly practical way this year as the chef de mission for the Canadian team to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

“High-performance athletes are driven and passionate. But they can always learn more from former athletes, who have been there and done it before them, and can relate to them and what they are going through,” said the multi-medallist Paralympic legend swimmer out of the University of Victoria and Saanich Commonwealth Place.

More than 50 Island-based athletes are expected to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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