London 2012 Summer Olympics: 3 men to watch

Here are three Canadian guys’and world-class competitors’who we’re hoping find Olympic glory in London

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Adam van Koeverden

Adam van Koeverden

Age: 30
Event: Kayaking, Individual
Twitter: @VanKayak

It's hard to believe that three-time Olympic medallist Adam van Koeverden doesn't see himself as a terribly gifted athlete. "I wore thick glasses as a kid, and I'm uncoordinated," explains van Koeverden.

Not one for team games, van Koeverden prefers sports that cover terrain-and lots of it-including mountain biking, snowboarding and, of course, kayaking. Growing up in Oakville, Ont., he was first drawn to kayaking because he could do it solo. "It's a technically demanding sport, like a puzzle. A perfect stroke takes a decade to perfect, and I had the willingness to spend all that time on the water being finicky about millimetres and timing."

He's also dedicated to his training. "I rest when I'm supposed to and go hard when I'm supposed to. My race is the toughest workout I do, and reminding myself of that keeps me pushing harder." London 2012 will be his third Olympic Games.

His kayak results
• Olympic Champion (Gold & Bronze, 2004 Athens; Silver, 2008 Beijing)
• 2-time World Champion
• 24-time World Cup Champion
• 67-time Canadian Champion

 

Photo courtesy Balint Vekassy/Courtesy of CanoeKayak Canada

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Jason Burnett

Jason Burnett

Age: 25
Event: Trampoline, Individual
Twitter: @JasonBurnett_

Jason Burnett isn't your typical third-year phil­osophy and religion student. The headline on his website homepage reads: "World record holder. Daredevil. Olympic medallist." Explains Burnett, who grew up in Nobleton, Ont., and is in his third year at the University of Toronto: "In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, I was viewed as an underdog and barely scraped into the finals in seventh place [only the top eight advance to the final round]. In the finals, my routine was much more difficult than any other competitor's and I finished with a silver medal."

Challenged by injury since then-a broken leg in 2010 (not a trampoline injury) and a torn plantar fascia (the connective tissue in the foot) after that-Burnett has qualified for the lone Canadian men's trampoline spot in London. With his training now back on track, Burnett is once again setting his sights on the Olympic podium.

His trampoline results
• 2008 Beijing Olympics, Silver Medallist
• 2007, 2010 World Record Holder for degree of difficulty in a routine

 

Photo courtesy GRACECHIU/GRACECLICK GYMNASTICS CANADA

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Reuben Ross

Reuben Ross

Age: 26
Event: Diving, Three-Metre
Twitter: @ReubenRoss

As a kid, Reuben Ross was fascinated with flying, so it's no surprise that the sport of diving captured his attention. "It's a little like flying," he says. "I love the feeling of rushing through the air, and I've had a passion for jumping and spinning and doing things that make me a bit scared. It's why I still love going to the pool every day."

There's also the dream of winning an Olympic medal, which took him from his hometown of Pilot Butte, Sask. (near Regina), to Edmonton at age 16 to train. He lived with his older brother Elliot and sister-in-law Debbie, which made the transition to a new city easier. "It was in Edmonton that I began to realize my potential as an athlete and as a person."

It's also where he met his now-wife Sheri (the couple wed in 2010). She, along with about 40 family members, will be travelling to London now that Ross has qualified for the Games in three-metre synchronized diving with Alex Despatie from Laval, Que. Further Olympic trials will determine if Ross will also be competing solo. "Diving synchro and diving individual are quite different-I prefer synchro. Diving is generally a sport so focused on yourself that it's fun to connect with a teammate, because your success means his success."

His diving results
• 2010 Commonwealth Games (three-metre, synchronized), Gold Medallist
• 2009 World Championships (three-metre, synchronized), Bronze Medallist
• 2008 NCAA championship (three-metre), Gold Medallist

 

Photo courtesy Scott Grant

 

Related:
Olympian to watch: Adam van Koeverden
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Émilie Heymans on preparing for the Olympics