Canadian Olympic Committee Names Adam van Koeverden Canada's Flag Bearer and Officially Names 2008 Olympic Team



    TORONTO/MONTREAL, July 23 /CNW/ - The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC)
today announced that Olympic and world champion kayaker Adam van Koeverden has
been named Canada's flag bearer for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The
announcement came as the COC also officially named the 331 athletes to
represent Canada as Beijing plays host to the world for the Games of the XXIX
Olympiad from August 8-24.
    "It's an incredible honour and privilege to be selected as Canada's
flagbearer for these Olympic Games" said van Koeverden. "China is preparing an
awesome Opening Ceremony, which I'm thrilled to lead our team of amazing
Canadian athletes into. It's a great feeling to be representing my sport of
Canoe-Kayak, our entire Canadian contingent, and everyone back home in Canada.
More than anything else, we hope to make every Canadian proud as they see the
Maple Leaf enter the Olympic Stadium in Beijing."
    At his first Olympic appearance four years ago in Athens, the native of
Oakville, Ont., was one of Canada's brightest success stories. First he raced
to a bronze medal in the K-1 1,000 metres. A day later in the K-1 500-metre
sprint, van Koeverden won gold. In so doing, he became the country's first
double medallist since sprinter Donovan Bailey and cyclist Clara Hughes earned
two medals each in 1996 in Atlanta. For this, he was named flag bearer at the
Closing Ceremony and later won the Lou Marsh Award as Canada's Male Athlete of
the Year.
    The sprint kayaker has dominated the World Cup circuit over the past four
years, winning the overall title each year from 2004 through 2007. He has won
21 World Cup gold medals, including five this year. He is also a 44-time
Canadian champion. Off the water, van Koeverden is an athlete ambassador for
the humanitarian group Right to Play, a group that comes to the aid of
disadvantaged youth with sport and activity.
    Van Koeverden will lead the Canadian Olympic Team into the brand new
Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed the Bird's Nest (owing to its unique
design) for the 2008 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on August 8th. The 331
Canadian athletes represent a significant increase over the 265 who competed
in Athens four years ago. This growth is due in part to an increase in team
sports that qualified for these Summer Games. In 2004 Canada qualified its
men's baseball, men's water polo and women's softball squads. This summer,
those same three are joined by men's field hockey and women's soccer.

    
    Other highlights of the 2008 Canadian Olympic Team are the participation
of nine athletes who reached the podium in Athens back to either defend their
medals or compete in a different event. They are:

    -  Gold medallists Adam van Koeverden (kayak, K-1 500m, Oakville Ont.)
       and Kyle Shewfelt (artistic gymnastics, floor, Calgary).

    -  Silver medallists Alexandre Despatie (diving, 3m springboard,
       Montreal), Marie-Hélène Prémont (cycling, cross-country, Quebec City),
       Karen Cockburn (gymnastics, trampoline, Toronto), Tonya Verbeek
       (wrestling, women's 55kg, St. Catharines, Ont.) and Jake Wetzel
       (rowing, coxless four in 2004, now a member of the men's eight,
       Saskatoon).

    -  Bronze medallists Emilie Heymans (diving, 10m synchro, now 10m
       platform, St. Lambert, Que.), Blythe Hartley (diving, 10m synchro, now
       3m springboard, North Vancouver) and Adam van Koeverden (K-1, 1,000m).
    

    The 2008 Canadian Olympic Team also boasts several athletes with four or
more Olympic Games to their name. This list is led by long-time equestrian
standout Ian Millar (Perth, Ont.), who in Beijing will mark his world
record-tying 9th Olympic Games with Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl. Rower
Lesley Thompson-Willie, of London, Ont., will compete in her 6th Olympic Games
and has four Olympic medals to her credit (one silver, three bronze). Edmonton
native trap shooter Susan Nattrass will compete in her 6th Olympic Games,
dating back to 1976. Race walker Dr. Tim Berrett of Edmonton and slalom
kayaker David Ford, of Edmonton, will compete in their 5th Games. Three other
athletes will mark their 4th Olympic appearance: Judoka Keith Morgan of
Calgary, tennis star and Olympic gold medallist Daniel Nestor and 1984 gold
medallist in fencing for China, Jujie Luan.
    "With just two weeks to go before the Opening Ceremony of the 2008
Olympic Games, I know that excitement is building," said Canada's Chef de
Mission Sylvie Bernier. "Our Canadian athletes have trained for years for
these upcoming 16 days of Olympic competition - from coast to coast and around
the world. Our team of coaches, mission staff and support personnel will be
behind them every step of the way, as will the rest of Canada."
    "We are very proud to have Adam van Koeverden carrying Canada's flag into
the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games," said COC president
Michael Chambers, himself a former competitive paddler. "Adam typifies the
Canadian Olympic Committee's passion for sport excellence and integrity, and
represents Canada with pride on every occasion."
    Adam van Koeverden was selected as Canada's flag bearer by a selection
committee comprising Bernier, Giles, two summer athletes chosen by the COC
Athletes' Council Executive Committee and a coach appointed by the coaches'
representative on the COC Executive Committee. Previous recent Olympic Games
flag bearers include Nicholas Gill (2004, judo), Caroline Brunet (2000,
kayak), Charmaine Crooks (1996, athletics), Michael Smith (1992, athletics),
Carolyn Waldo (1988, synchronized swimming) and Alex Baumann (1984, swimming).
    The complete list of the 2008 Canadian Olympic Team can be found by
visiting the newly-launched COC's Games website at
http://www.olympic.ca/Beijing2008/EN/Athletes/searchResults.htm. Also featured
on the site will be 2008 Olympic Games results, athlete and coach biographies,
historical results and a listing of the COC mission team that will support
Canada's athletes.

    The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is a national, private,
not-for-profit organization committed to sport excellence. It is responsible
for all aspects of Canada's involvement in the Olympic movement, including
Canada's participation in the Olympic and Pan American Games and a wide
variety of programs that promote the Olympic movement in Canada through
cultural and educational means. For more information, see the COC website:
www.olympic.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Steve Keogh, Director, Communications, Canadian
Olympic Committee, Tel: (416) 324-4146, Cell: (416) 806-3949, Email:
skeogh@olympic.ca; Sylvie Bigras, Chef de presse, Canadian Olympic Committee,
Cell: (613) 298-1625, Email: sbigras@olympic.ca

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