Canadian Selection, what racing is all about
By Joel McCune
On the last run of Canadian Olympic Selection 11 hundredths of a second, 110 milliseconds, separated John Hastings and Michael Tayler of Canada on their last race run. To put this in perspective, it takes 300-400 miliseconds to blink your eyes. The separation between John and Michael was one third of a blink of an eye.
The first three runs had been a very close race between the top Canadians. It came down to the last run. Any of the top five or six Canadian men’s kayaks could win the weekend if they won the last run. The winner of the last run would be going to London to represent Canada in the 2012 Olympic Games. A lot was riding on the last run.
In 2011, Michael Tayler had earned a slot on the Canadian B team. He was on the second national team. This meant he received very little coaching or support in comparison to the top three kayaks. Michael moved into my downstairs room for a little over a month last fall before going home for the holidays. Following the holidays he went to Australia to train before returning to my downstairs room two months ago to train.
During this spring training, Michael, his sister Kathleen, Aly McGee and Tyler Hinton all lived at my house and trained together. It was impressive how well they worked together as a training group. They took turns taking video of each other. Following workouts they would get together and do group video review. Every week they had what they called a, “family meeting,” to discuss their training and put together a plan for the following week. They took turns cooking, one of them cooking every night. They had a very good thing going.
When I moved to Charlotte a little over six years ago now, the annual migrations began. Every year the Canadians came down, lived where ever they could and trained here in Charlotte during the spring. John Hastings was among these athletes who I have come to know fairly well through these annual migrations. During this time John has earned a huge amount of my respect. He trains harder than almost anybody in this sport I have met. John is a true athlete. John has also been doing this for a very, very long time. During this time John steadily narrowed the margin on a perennial fixture at the top of Canadian slalom, David Ford. Looking at how John was paddling leading into this selection race, he was looking very, very good. He was ready to perform at the top of his game.
It came down to the last run of the two days of racing. Whoever won the last run would go to the Olympic Games in London and represent Canada. It was not just a two man race. Depending on the placing, it was very possible for it to be any one of the top five Canadian men’s kayaks. When it was over, 11 hundredths of a second separated John and Michael. Michael Tayler won the race. John got a very close second.
Michael Tayler earning the honor to represent Canada in the Olympic Games, this is an amazing accomplishment. This however, was not the only impressive event in this sporting event. Equally impressive was how John responded. Upon hearing the results, John stated he had no regrets. He had put down his best run ever in Charlotte. Michael simply had put down a better run.
At the end of the Canadian Olympic Selection, Michael Tayler and John Hastings both earned a tremendous level of my respect. Both have worked extremely hard and raced even harder. They both wanted the opportunity so bad they could taste it. At the end of the competition, Michael was the underdog who did it. He earned the honor nobody, including himself, really thought was entirely possible. John found himself less than a second behind and not going to London. Upon hearing the results, John displayed quite possibly the best example of sportsmanship I have ever known of. Michael and John, you both have earned a huge degree of my respect. Nice work gentlemen.