For Olympic champion turned Federal Member of Parliament Adam van Koeverden, his policy when it comes to trying something new is simple – be comfortable with saying yes.
It may come as a complete surprise to learn that van Koeverden, an Olympic gold medal-winning kayaker in the K-1 1,000-metres at the 2004 Athens Summer Games, doesn’t consider himself especially athlete.
“I’m not great at many sports,” van Koeverden said. “In fact, most of my friends wouldn’t even describe me as an athlete. They say he’s a good kayaker and he can run and ride a bike.
“I’m a pretty bad basketball player and pretty useless with a hockey stick but I do enjoy trying different things and because I’m open to them, I can have a good time.”
That’s a key element that is often overlooked when discussing the multi-sport experience. It isn’t necessary to be really good at all the sports you try. In fact, it might even be better off for you in the long run if you aren’t always the star of the show.
“I like variety in my life with respect to physical activity,” van Koeverden said. “It not only teaches and ensures a diverse skill set, it also keeps you in front of a lot of different people and maintains a diverse kind of community.
“It makes sure you have access to lots of people in different fields and opportunities.”
The Liberal MP for the riding of Milton, Ontario, van Koeverden serves as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and to the Minister of Sport. Naturally, he’s got a vested interest in seeing Canadians invested in playing sports and living a healthy lifestyle.
“I love doing all sports and I still do,” van Koeverden said. “I try to stay active every day and I don’t do the same activity every day.
“It’s so important for the physical literacy of Canada’s youth, just given the diversity of our four seasons. We have four distinct seasons in most parts of Canada, so it’s important to have a summer sport and a winter sport and something to keep them busy in between.
“I think we’re all naturally a little attention deficit with regards to our physical activity. Unless your training for something serious like an Olympic Games or to qualify for a team, the best way to stay fit and healthy is to do a variety of activities.”
Over the years, van Koeverden has tried among other sports, soccer, softball, running, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and trail running. He’s even dabbled in ultimate frisbee and surfing.
“I do a lot of sports with my friends,” van Koeverden said.
The Olympic champion’s advice when it comes to the multi-sport lifestle? Be open to new opportunities.
“My rule with taking on new challenges is be comfortable with saying yes,” van Koeverden said. “If somebody says, ‘Hey, do you want to try this?’ say ‘Yes.” It can’t hurt to try.
“You’ll learn a lot from every opportunity.”
You might learn to like the new activity. And you might even learn a little something about yourself.