By City of Ottawa Sports Commissioner Mathieu Fleury
Two-time Olympian Michael Tayler of Ottawa qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics only two weeks before it was evident COVID-19 had spread across the world.
On March 22, 2020, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced it would not be sending our athletes to the Olympics this year.
The International Olympic Committee decided in April to postpone the Tokyo Games, and confirmed athletes who qualified for the competition spots would attend the 2021 games.
“I feel lucky that my qualification was two weeks ahead,” Tayler said. “Some of my team members’ were in March, and now they have to wait until next year.”
Now, Tayler said, he will keep his eye on the possibility of rescheduled World Cups in 2020, but regardless of what turns out, he will focus on training, get stronger, and be ready for the Olympic Games in 2021.
A Nepean High School graduate, Tayler has always called Ottawa home. He completed his undergrad at Carleton University and remains an Ottawa River Runners club member.
“Obviously, a lot has changed,” smiled the 28-year-old who made his Olympic debut in London at age 20.
He laughs as he comments about how this is probably the longest he has been home in a while – staying with his parents in Westboro, instead of competing in Northern Italy and France as planned pre-pandemic.
“It’s different for sure, being at home. I am adjusting to that,” he said, adding he misses the chance to train on different courses around the world.
Ottawa is one of the few cities with its own downtown whitewater rapids course, the Pumphouse (beside Lebreton Flats).
The class 2 whitewater site is where a young Michael Tayler took a ride down the course.
Now, 20 years later, on a Zoom call, Tayler recalls how his love for the sport grew.
“It is a race against the clock as you go down the whitewater,” Tayler said. “You have to use the water; it is more powerful than you are, it’s stronger than you are, so the fastest way is to use the power of the water – I have always loved that. I have loved the sport right from the start. Being on the water – it’s an amazing thing to do.”