We are a small club, but mighty
Richmond Hill Liberal
By Warren Lang
David Stewart's first instinct soon after crossing the finish line in his kayak at the recent Canadian CanoeKayak Sprint Championships on Ottawa's scenic Rideau Canal was to climb over a barricade into the grandstand of spectators.
The 16-year-old Grade 11 Richmond Hill High School student had good reason to do so, after he claimed his first-ever national title when padding in the Under 16 1,000-metre individual kayak event.
Stewart wanted to savour the moment with the rest of his Richmond Hill Canoe Club teammates and head coach Helen Savin.
A member of the club's high performance program, Stewart wasn't the only Richmond Hill Canoe Club competitor to attain success at Canada's oldest amateur canoe/kayak competition, which attracted more than 1,200 competitors from clubs across Canada.
Oskar Morawski claimed the silver medal in the Under 17 6,000m endurance event. Tula Morawska, Oskar's sister, finished in the top five in four different events.
Canoer Jean Luc Cinq-Mars won the bronze medal in the Under 17 200m, while kayaker Niko Tsaousidis was fourth in the Under 16 200m.
As a foursome, Stewart, Morawski, Cameron Lang and Brendan Rogers joined forces to finish fourth in the Under 17 1,000m team kayak event.
Also selected to coach the Ontrio Regatta Team this year, Savin was quick to credit the dedication each of the competitors exhibited in making their presence felt at the championships.
"The training was very difficult for them," she cited. "They had to be mentally and physically strong. They worked so hard that when they came here and succeeded, they know that their effort was worth it."
Preparations involved gruelling year-round twice-a-day training to build up their strength, endurance and speed at the club's home base on Lake Wilcox.
Savin also praised the support they received from the Richmond Hill community, which in turn, has helped to create a greater awareness of their endeavours.
"We are all grateful for the ongoing support of the community - especially the residents on Lake Wilcox - and we are proud to be raising the profile of the town across the country," she said. "I am so proud of everything we have accomplished. We are a small club, but we are mighty."
Along with fielding a high performance program, the club also has a vibrant team of masters who compete at the national level and advanced, intermediate and racing development options for younger paddlers.
For more on the Richmond Hill Canoe Club, log on to: www.rhcc.on.ca