Dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal are closer to becoming a reality for a pair of South Delta rowers.
Ladner’s Maxwell Lattimer and Tsawwassen’s Brendan Hodge were among 26 athletes selected Tuesday by the Canadian Olympic Committee and Rowing Canada Aviron to represent Team Canada at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Hodge and Lattimer will make up the lightweight men’s four crew along with Ontario’s Nicolas Pratt and Eric Woelfl. They will compete at Lagoa Stadium, Aug. 6 to 14, where eight men’s events and six women’s events will be staged.
The rowers won gold at the Pan Am Games in Toronto last year. They were also in Canada’s lightweight fours boat in 2014, finishing eighth and 10th at World Cup events in Switzerland and France, respectively. They were also 13th at the 2014 World Championships.
“Now that it is official, it gives us that little extra kick of excitement. We are looking forward to the next practice even more,” said Lattimer of being named to the Olympic team.
“We are a pretty tight knit group. We stick together really well. It’s pretty fun hanging with those guys and getting to push ourselves to the limit.”
Lattimer is one of the country’s top up-and-coming rowers who was spotted by 2008 Olympic gold medalist Ben Rutledge during a Team B.C. identification camp in his Grade 11 year.
He spent one year at the University of Western Ontario before returning home to row under Mike Pierce at UBC. Lattimer then earned a spot on the national team and put his biology studies at UBC on hold to train full-time as a carded athlete out of London, Ont.
Hodge resumed his international rowing career after being focused on his university studies for several years, attending Harvard, then law school at UBC. It was watching the 2012 Summer Olympics that inspired him to return to the water.
Hodge got started in competitive rowing at Vancouver College and later attended Brentwood College, which features a powerhouse high school program based at Mill Bay on Vancouver Island.
Lattimer said during the winter the team moved, mostly at its own expense, from the training centre in London to Burnaby — a decision that has really paid off.
“That glued us together more than any other experience over the past few years. We had some great conversations and tried to figure out what would make us the best team in Rio,” he said. “Obviously every Olympic year is a bit different and things tend to go up and down more than you expect, but I think it’s that core foundation of the bonds we have created that have kept us together going along this path and kept the training going.”
He said most of their preparation leading up to Rio will be in London, given that it is only one time zone over. The team will fly out on Aug. 1 and will have five days to get settled before competing.
“Being able to stay in your home and continue on with your daily routine is a big advantage,” Lattimer said. “Right now we have shifted our focus to how we train and that’s working on the high end, high rate race training. This is the most exciting point of the year. Our potential is limitless if we utilize the next 40 days as best as we can.”
Lattimer said to get to this point in their careers is a dream come true.
“We were talking just among the four of us the other day about our own progressions to this point,” he recalled. “First I competed for Delta in the B.C. Games, then it was competing for Team B.C. at the Canada Games. Then you make your first Team Canada and go to Pan Am Games and now to race for Canada at the Olympics — it is a dream come true. You are at the highest level of sport representing the best country in the world. What could be better than wearing the red and white maple leaf?”