Mark de Jong
Mark de Jonge’s first goal in a kayak had been to just stay upright. Nearly two decades later he is amongst the best paddlers in the world. After missing out on qualifying for both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, de Jonge’s time to shine came when the quick sprint K-1 200m was added to the Olympic program for London 2012. After a breakout season in 2011 when he won a World Cup medal, he captured bronze in his Olympic debut at London 2012. He had qualified for the Olympic team despite being unable to paddle for several weeks before the Canadian trials when he dropped an 80-pound dumbbell on his finger. After sitting out the World Cup stops, he won the trials in a faster time than ever recorded in international competition. Over the next two years de Jonge became Canada’s most consistent kayaker. In 2013 he won his first World Cup gold medal and finished second at the ICF World Championships by just 0.03 of a second. He bettered himself in 2014, setting a best-ever K-1 200m time in an ICF event in the semifinal before claiming the world title. He successfully defended that world championship gold medal in 2015, making him the first man to win back-to-back titles since 2003. Earlier in the summer he won K-1 200m gold at the Pan Am Games in Toronto and added a bronze medal in the K-2 200m. Mark is now looking for Olympic victory in the team boats. Teaming up with fellow Vaikobi Athletes Nick Matveev, Pierre-Luc Poulin and Simon McTavish he has taken lead in the front seat where the team aims to qualify the K4 500m for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.