Mark de Jonge knew he needed a good performance at Canadian Olympic trials on Sunday to secure a place in the K-1 200. He delivered the fastest time in the history of the event to leave no doubt. Al Dannity looks at the emergence of a new medal hope for London 2012.
Making a statement
Mark de Jonge arrived in Montreal knowing Windsor’s Ryan Cochrane and Dartmouth’s Jason McCoombs had already ensured Nova Scotia would have representatives on the water in London. To join them he would have to secure qualification in the K-1 200, needing to win two races in Montreal to secure his slot. When it came to the crucial second race, de Jonge delivered the race of his life. His time of 33.804 seconds crushed the world standard of 33.98. As it was at a national championships, de Jonge’s time won’t formally replace the world record held by France’s Olivier Lasak but his performance will send a message out to anyone looking to medal in London.
A long road
Despite being a sprinter, de Jonge knows all about taking the long way round. The 28 year old from Halifax missed out on making the Olympic team in 2004 and 2008. This time around de Jonge wanted to make sure he did everything possible to secure his place at the games. The newly crowned fastest man in the world began his journey to London by taking a two year leave of absence from his engineering job. Despite making solid progress, de Jonge suffered an injury in April that nearly ended his Olympic dream. A broken finger meant he couldn’t race all summer and only had a chance to make an impact at the weekend.
The Halifax rocket showed no signs of rust as he scorched the competition to clinch his spot in London. “It was really hard because I didn’t know where I stood, but the plan was that I was going to win,” said de Jonge. “Obviously, I had my doubts. I was unsure at times but I’m really happy to see the plan worked out. It’s actually kind of hard to believe. People always say, ‘It hasn’t sunk in yet.’ I always thought that’s just what they said, but it really hasn’t. It’s kind of surreal.”
That sizzling performance makes de Jonge Nova Scotia’s eight confirmed Olympian and surely now one of its highest profile representatives in London.
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