Ashley Rowe is hoping Jade Minor can duplicate his success from the B.C. Sprint CanoeKayak Championships at nationals next week in Montreal.
Minor had a huge provincial championship in Burnaby, earning five U-17 medals, including gold in the C2 1,000-metre with Nanaimo's Cameron Antiflave, and four K1 bronze medals (6,000 metres, 500 metres, 1,000 metres and 200 metre).
He will be joined at nationals by Danielle Caron who also had a huge weekend, bringing back seven U-17 medals, four gold and three silver.
It was a bit of a surprise performance for Minor after struggling to keep his training in a boat up throughout the summer.
"At this stage of his development we're still trying to encourage a lot of multi sports and encouraging that long term athlete pathway," said Rowe, the club's head coach. "It hasn't been as much of a deterrent for Jade because he has been doing other activities on the side ad staying active."
Minor's biggest solo performance came in the 6,000 metre as he played strategy perfectly in the marathon race and found himself in the hunt late.
He entered the final 1,200 metres battling for fifth spot, but as he came back down the course to the finish line he had moved up considerably and was in medal position.
"I was astounded, I had goose bumps everywhere, I was like 'Holy Crap! Jade's in third! This is awesome!" said Rowe. "He made a great move tactically in the race. The 6K is all about endurance, but also about race strategy, because you can't go out really hard at the start because you might burn yourself out and you want to make sure you are take the turns efficiently and sprinting out of them."
He will be competing in three solo events at nationals (K1 200, 1,000 and 6,000 metres) and his coach is hoping he can find himself in the hunt once again. "There's probably going 35 people in the K1 events, but I'm optimistic that he can be in the top half of the pack," said Rowe.
He will not be competing in the C2 1,000-metres, despite winning gold.
His partner in the boat, Antiflave, is still just 14 years old and will be several years younger than his competition in Montreal. But the bigger issue was it would end his eligibility to compete at the B.C. Summer Games next year in Nanaimo, besides he should have a number of opportunities to qualify again for nationals.
"He could go for experience but next year is going to be a real exciting opportunity to represent Zone 6 in Nanaimo," said Rowe.
Antiflave was among the youngest in his division at provincials, but he still performed well, also finishing fourth in the U-17 200-metre K2 with Minor, the U-16 1,000-metre K1 and the U17 1,000-metre K2 with Minor.
Caron, 16, meanwhile, cleaned up at provincials and will be competing in five events in Montreal: K1 200, 1,000, 6,000 metres and the K2 1,000 metre and the K4 1,000 metre.
She partnered with Isobel Glover out of Victoria for her U-17 K2 gold medals in 1,000 metres and 200-metres, and was grouped with Glover and sisters Meghan and Lauryn Cheung from the Mainland for U-17 gold medals in the C4 1,000 metre and K4 200-metre.
Caron will also be one of the youngest in her division, but Rowe has high expectations for the Nanaimoite. After a strong showing in the K2 events in the Canada Summer games against U-21 competition, finishing fourth and fifth in the 1,000-and 200-metre races, those expectations are not just for next week.
"It just shows in a few years time, when they have the opportunity, in 2017 even, they will be at the top of their age category," said Rowe.
They will be flying out of Nanaimo on Sunday with the Canadian CanoeKayak Sprint Championships running Aug. 27-31.
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