UVic rowers Patrick Keane and Avalon Wasteneys talk their Olympic debut goals
Last month Rowing Canada Aviron and the Canadian Olympic Committee announced the 29 athletes who will be representing Canada in the 10 boats qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics taking place this summer. Of those athletes, three are current rowers from the University of Victoria.
Avalon Wasteneys and Patrick Keane will be making their Olympic rowing debuts while Caileigh Filmer will be returning for her second Games after competing in Rio 2016.
“Obviously Olympic gold is our goal,” said Wasteneys. “However, we’re also so aware that this is a really cool opportunity to be completely internal and focused on ourselves.”
The Campbell River native will be competing in the women’s coxed eight – a strong contender for the podium for Canada this summer – but also recognizes that these Games will be unlike any other due to the pandemic.
“We haven’t raced crews in two years – no one has any clue what they’re going up against,” said Wasteneys. “Our main goal is to commit ourselves to redefining excellence for ourselves and for the legacy of Canadian rowers that come after us.”
Keane will be racing in the men’s lightweight double sculls. In an interview with the Martlet, he explained that the pandemic offered a break from training out on the water. The break gave him a chance to refresh and come back to the boat hungry.
“It really benefited us to be away from the boat and to come back to the boat with a fresh mind,” said the Victoria local. His racing partner Maxwell Lattimer, from Ladner B.C., will be returning for his second Games after racing in Rio in 2016. Keane says that while he has been leaning on Lattimer’s Olympic experience, he also feels that his last race gave him some of his own experience on what the Games will be like.
“[At] our last competition, at the last chance qualifier, there was an immense amount of pressure for the two boats going to Tokyo to qualify,” said Keane. “That type of pressure from all the other countries…I think that’s a very good simulation of the Olympics.”
Also a Victoria homegrown talent, Filmer will be returning for her second straight Olympic Games after racing in the women’s eight in Rio 2016 where her crew placed fifth. This summer, she will be racing with Hillary Janssens, from Cloverdale B.C., in the women’s pair. They have been internationally successful since becoming racing partners in 2018 and most recently won a bronze medal at the 2019 World Rowing Championships.
“We’ve been having some really really fast speeds on the water. Everyone is just really fit and mentally very focused,” said Wasteneys when asked if she feels the team will be ready to compete at their best later this month. “I definitely think it’s going to be quite a show.”
Kai Langerfeld, a UVic rowing alumnus, will also be headed to Tokyo this summer for his second Games after racing in the men’s four at Rio 2016. He and racing partner Conlin McCabe will be competing in the men’s pair this year.
This Games will be the first time Canada has raced 10 boats since Atlanta 1996 and will be the largest Canadian Olympic rowing team in the last 25 years. In Tokyo, the regatta will be held on the brand new Sea Forest Waterway in the Tokyo Bay Zone. The UVic Olympians will be in the rowing events held from July 23 to July 30.