Mark de Jonge secured the final canoe-kayak spot for Canada’s Olympic team Sunday after earning a win at the Canadian team trials.
The Halifax native posted a time of 33.804 seconds in the men’s K-1 200 metre to earn a ticket to the London Games.
“It feels awesome,” said de Jonge. “I blasted out of the gates and it went exactly as I planned it. I had a really fast time so I was happy with that.”
De Jonge’s time was 0.176 of a second faster than the best time ever recorded by the International Canoe Federation. The time won’t replace the record set by Olivier Lasak of France in 1992, but it’s a good mark for de Jonge who didn’t race at a World Cup event this year with a finger injury.
“It’s great to know that after everything that happened, I’m still on top,” said de Jonge. “It took a lot of work with a good group of people to make sure we had a good plan. Everyone had a hand in it and that got me to where I am today.”
Two wins were needed to secure the spot. De Jonge won the first race Saturday in a nine-boat final and beat Richard Dober Jr. of Trois Rivieres, Que., in a race-off Sunday between the top two boats. Dober was 0.565 of a second behind de Jonge with a time of 34.369.
“I can’t be disappointed with the race I did,” said Dober. “I’m happy with the way I raced and I’m pretty sure Mark is going to represent Canada well and do a pretty good job at the Olympics.”
De Jonge qualified the Olympic quota spot for Canada last year with a sixth place result at the world championships. He also won a bronze medal last year at a World Cup.
“You cannot ask for more six weeks before the Olympic race,” said coach Fred Jobin. “He’s listening, he’s doing everything I’m asking him to do. For me as a coach, it’s so easy to work with an athlete like Mark.”