Jurgen Lankau must be smiling down on the remarkable legacy he initiated decades ago.
The Delta Sports Hall of Fame member, who passed away in 2006, launched the Falcons Field Hockey Club back in 1968. Since then, there has been a steady stream of athletes who grew up learning the game at Tsawwassen’s Winskill Park and have gone on to play for Canada at a variety of international competitions.
The tradition continues at the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games where Mark Pearson and Brendan Guraliuk will be representing their country.
It will be Pearson’s third Olympic Games. The 34-year-old competed in Rio (2016) and Beijing (2008) when he happened to be the same age as Guraliuk. That team featured Rob and Peter Short from Tsawwassen, along with current Delta North MLA and provincial cabinet minister Ravi Khalon.
“There is a west coast bias (to the national team) but there is also a Tsawwassen legacy of athletes competing and I’m happy this kid is going to keep the legacy going in the future,” said Pearson. “Jurgen Lankau left an indelible mark on those who came before me. Obviously, that grass field at Winskill saw a lot of action over the years.”
Guraliuk played for Canada at the World Youth Olympic Games three years ago in Buenos Aires Argentina . Fortunately he has a veteran hometown teammate who can help him get comfortable being on sport's greatest stage.
“The Youth Olympics are something but this is a whole other beast,” he said. “I think I will have to lean on Marky a little bit, like what to do and what not to do in the athlete’s village and that. I think it’s going to be an experience where I just take it on.”
Pearson added it can be easy to get caught up in the moment as a first-time Olympian.
“You’re in the village and you see this collection of the world’s most famous athletes. I remember sitting in the dining hall and across from me was Roger Federer. That’s pretty cool for a kid from Tsawwassen growing up playing field hockey.”
Both admit they don’t know what to expect in Tokyo as COVID-19 restrictions will most certainly limit their ability to take in competitions at other Olympic venues as the Summer Games finally proceed following a year delay due to the continuing world-wide pandemic.
It took a wild comeback in the fall of 2019 for Canada to defeat Ireland and clinch an Olympic berth. At the time, Pearson was recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon injury, while Guraliuk was still trying to establish himself as a full-time member of the team.
“Through all the training we were like kind of living like what’s the process going to be and what’s going to happen? Even our first (European) tour got announced a week prior to going,” added Guraliuk. “We at least had something in place and we were going to compete for the first time in a year. It felt great. Once having an international competition, we realized Tokyo would be a strong possibility too.”