Kelowna's Will Dean and the Canadian men's quad rowing team have a busy summer working towards next year's Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.

Kelowna's Will Dean and the Canadian men's quad rowing team have a busy summer working towards next year's Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.

Kelowna’s Dean building to Rio

Rower Will Dean looking forward to second Olympic Games appearance with Canadian rowers

By Douglas Vandor

Everybody dreams; very few of us chase them.

Kelowna’s Will Dean is one of the few.  He realized at an early age that if he wanted to give his dreams a fighting chance, he needed a plan that was supported with old-fashioned blood, sweat and tears. Otherwise, the dreams would shrivel and die.

His goal? He wanted to be a top-level athlete.

His plan? Dean wanted a sports scholarship to a top American school that would act as a stepping-stone to something more.

The question then was how was this going to be accomplished?

Dean knew that, though he was good at some of the sports he had started as a kid, he was never going to reach their pinnacle.

Basketball, one of his loves, appeared a long shot.  Dean was searching for a court that he could preside over, not one where he would play the role of the jester.

He switched his focus to the world of amateur sport. The Olympic rings were what inspired Dean, he just had to decide in which ring he could deliver a knockout.

“I have a powerful memory of Simon Whitfield winning the gold medal in Sydney,” explained Will, “that moment left a huge imprint on me.”

Whitfield’s gold was an impactful moment for many Canadians, but especially for the Okanagan teenager whose mother had captured a world title in the sport in 1991.

“I had to figure out a way to get to the Olympics,” Dean recounted as he remembered his thought process as a high school student. “I wanted to be a part of that movement.”

Triathlons however, were not going to be the way he achieved his dream.

“I was too big to be a triathlete so I had to find another sport.”

Scrolling down the list of Olympic disciplines, he landed on rowing.

Bingo. Knowing where to direct his energies was half the battle.

“I decided that rowing would be my vehicle to get to my destination,” he explained.

Ten years on, the almost 28-year-old London Olympian is in the midst of preparing with the Canadian men’s quad team for the Pan American Games regatta and more importantly, the Olympic qualifying regatta, both taking place this summer. With London behind him, he is looking towards Rio in 2016.

“I try to get the most out of every day. I don’t want to finish any week thinking I wasted time,” Dean said.

His outlook on rowing reflects his approach to life.

“I am receptive to being wrong. It is an attitude I try to embrace regardless of what I am doing,” Dean said. “Otherwise, I will stop getting better, and then I might as well move on.”

And though Dean still daydreams about the NBA, all of his energy is being poured into performing in the Olympic ring, at this his second attempt.

“I had a dream 10 years ago which led me to London by way of California,” said Dean.  “Now hopefully it’s onwards to Brazil.”

It was a dream that started in Kelowna and ended in London, with a detour through the Golden State. It is a dream that now continues with the goal of attaining a more permanent golden state in the city of Rio.

“It’s one day at a time,” Dean reiterates.  “Daily goals while letting the larger dream guide you. If you do this, it doesn’t matter what happens, you have already won.”

Mapping out a course and then following through with a plan, focusing on small daily victories while the dream guides you from a distance.

Golden advice.

And with an approach like that, who needs a silver lining.

Busy summer…

Dean and the Canadians men’s quadruple sculls team will be competing this week, June 18 to 21, at World Cup 2 in Varese, Italy.

The Pan American Regatta in St. Catharines, Ont., and the World Rowing Championships—which serves as the Olympic qualifying regatta—in France will follow later in the summer.


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