HUMAN EDGE: Stantec’s Olympian
Mark de Jonge is an engineer-in-training with Stantec Consulting in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. On August 11 at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London he won a bronze medal in the Men’s Kayak Single 200 metres race. CCE spoke to him in early...
Mark de Jonge is an engineer-in-training with Stantec Consulting in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. On August 11 at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London he won a bronze medal in the Men’s Kayak Single 200 metres race. CCE spoke to him in early September.
Q. Since you won your medal in London,
has it all been a bit of a whirlwind for you?
Yes. But it has calmed down a bit — or I’ve got used to the pace! There are still things going on. I am going to the APENS annual meeting tomorrow, and the next day I get to do the opening kick-off for a Dalhousie University football game.
Q. How did you get into kayaking?
We moved from Calgary to Halifax in 1997 and my parents wanted me to make some friends locally so they enrolled me in the Maskwa Aquatic Club program. I fell in love with kayaking that summer and decided to train in the fall and winter program.
Q. Did you ever think you
would be an Olympian?
I always dreamed of it actually. Before we moved to Halifax I was in judo. We had a couple of Olympians in my judo club in Calgary and I would see them walk in every couple of months and I realized that it’s possible to be one. Then, during the ’96 Olympics after I saw Donovan Bailey win the gold I became really excited about becoming an Olympian someday.
Q. What do you do at Stantec?
I’m an engineer-in-training, working in the geotechnical and materials division. I took a leave of absence in February 2011 to train full-time in Florida, Europe and different places within Canada.
Q. Were people at Stantec supportive?
Yes, they were. My immediate supervisors were both all for it — Brian Grace and Peter Crowe. They brought it up to Hal Lewis, who is a regional leader, and he was also very supportive.
I think they knew that it was my only chance to do that kind of thing in my life and they didn’t want me to have any regrets, so they let me do it, which was great.
Q. What was it like for you
during the race in London?
The crowd was so loud — much louder than I anticipated. As I was racing every time that my hand went by my head, the crowd was drowned out for a split second, so I could hear every stroke that I was taking in my own head.
I just stuck to my race plan and it did pretty well.
Q. So you had no idea you
had won until after the race?
They had a scoreboard up, and I just had to wait to see what had happened. It was a very close race.
Q. What was that like?
That was pretty hard. It might have only been 10 or 15 seconds of waiting for the results, but it felt long. They first put the 1 and 2 results up, but I think because it was so close between 3 and 4, they took more time with that.
Looking at the scoreboard it was hard knowing that I didn’t come 1 or 2. I was kind of disappointed at first. But I knew there was one spot left, and if my name came up that meant I got a bronze medal. So I was really happy to see I came third. And, of course, I’m very happy to be an Olympic medalist.
Q. Have you been back to the office since?
Yes, we had a celebration at the office and we had another day when people brought their kids in to meet me and get some autographs. It has been really fun!cce