Will Dean knows that his dream of competing in the Olympics is now within reach.
Dean, a Kelowna Secondary School graduate, and the other members of Team Canada’s men’s four rowing boat qualified for the 2012 Olympics by finishing seventh overall at the recent World Rowing Championships.
That means the boat will take part in the London Olympics next July. However who rows in the boat can change leading up to the games.
“It is within reach but I’m never going to count my eggs before they hatch,” said Dean this week on a visit back home to Kelowna to see friends and family. “Going to the Olympics would be awesome but all I can really do is focus on myself and just work as hard as I can.”
Rowing Canada will not name the members of the men’s four until closer to the Olympic Games as it looks for the strongest rowers to place in the boat. For Dean and the other members of the boat that means they must keep getting better and faster through the winter training months.
“It’s going to be up to the coaches,” said the 24-year-old. “It’s their responsibility to make the fastest boat possible and it’s my job to make myself as fast as I can be.”
And that’s a job that Dean has been doing pretty well since turning his attention full time to rowing for Team Canada.
After closing out his university rowing career at the University of California in 2010 by winning the Intercollegiate Rowing Championships, Dean moved to Victoria to begin rowing full-time at the Victoria Rowing Centre.
He was plagued by minor injuries his first year there but this season the 6-foot-5 215 pound Kelowna native came into his own, powering his way into the men’s four for this year’s World Championships in Slovenia.
“I was really honoured to be able to represent my country,” said Dean. “We were happy but not satisfied. We did well but we can do better. We want to come back and train harder so we can do better next year.”
After a few weeks off Dean and the rest of the Canadian rowers will be back to work, training three times a day, every day, in Victoria as they work towards the Olympics next year. He is officially a carded athlete through the federal government’s athlete assistance program and his training schedule leaves little time for even a part-time job to help offset the costs of living.
“Rowing is my job,” he said. “I spend all day at it. I love it. I have great coaches and I get to be around a bunch of really motivated people.”
Without being able to work, Dean relies on the government’s carding system as well as his sponsors to get by. Currently those sponsors include Kelowna Hot Yoga and MTM Special Ops Watches but he is hoping there are more businesses he can partner with on his Olympic journey.
If you are interested in helping Dean along the way you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.