Olympic Hopes Experience September 2023 - written by Justin Boyko

This year, I made the U16 Canadian men's canoe team, and had the opportunity to race at the Olympic Hopes in Poznan, Poland, which was an amazing experience.
The international competition brought together athletes from various countries, showing me a whole new world of paddling creating a competitive atmosphere. The races were a learning experience, and the opportunity to compete against top-level athletes in my age category was both challenging and rewarding. My favourite races were my 500m's where I raced in C1 and C2 with Baer Robertson from Wascana Canoe Club.

My C1 final went as well as I could have hoped. I came to the start line literally shaking in my boots with nerves watching the races before me go. My start probably couldn't have been much worse, as I hit the gate, and missed some valuable strokes, putting me a good distance behind the Italian, who was in first. As the race progressed I was slowly able to pick off person by person making my way up the pack till I was able to over take the Italian putting me in first with a good margin to spare. Although, I did not manage to make the A final I was still very pleased with my results in both of the races.
Representing Canada has been a dream of mine ever since I realized that I could possibly achieve it, and attending Olympics Hopes became a wonderful experience, as well as a motivation for coming years. Overall, the regatta was an amazing experience for my first time competing on an international stage.