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Inspired by the success of Canadian rowers at the 1992 Olympics, this future Olympian joined the Thunder Bay Rowing Club at the age of 14, setting in motion an amateur sports career that would see him represent his hometown with pride for over a decade. Gaining success at NWIRA events in lightweight singles and pairs, he continued to row while attending Lakehead University, transferring to the University of Western Ontario after two years. A member of the Mustangs crew from 1999 to 2001, he won multiple OUA championship races and a Canadian University title. Returning to Lakehead to finish his forestry degree, he added more hardware to his ever-growing collection, competing successfully in lightweight singles at OUA, national championships and the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.

Representing Canada at the 2002 Commonwealth Regatta in Nottingham, England, he took to the oars, along with fellow Thunder Bay rower Eric Oinonen, to claim gold in the lightweight pair. Rowing as part of the heavyweight eight, they won a silver medal at the event and a gold medal at the 2002 World University Championship.

Moving to Victoria in 2003, home of Canada's high-performance rowing centre, he focused full-time on his rowing career, becoming an integral part of the national team, representing Canada with success around the world. Competing in the lightweight men's quadruple sculls he brought home a silver medal from the 2004 World Rowing Championships, missing out on the world championship title by 0.19 seconds. Competing in the double sculls he brought home a bronze medal from the 2005 World Cup and won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007 in the lightweight men's pair.

With 4th place finishes in the men's lightweight four at the 2006 and 2007 World Championships, he set his sights on the 2008 Olympic Summer Games. Teaming up with Iain Brambell, Jon Beare and Michael Lewis, the crew overcame a series of obstacles and pushed through their training and headed to Beijing. Finishing second in both the heats and semi-finals, their late surge in the final 500m of the 2000m Olympic medal race, saw them cross the finish line in 3rd place, earning Canada a bronze medal. Retiring from his national career following the Olympics, this exceptional athlete continues to remain involved in the sport as a recreational rower and supporter and serves as a role model for the next generation of young rowing stars.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 24, 2016

Liam Parsons

Thunder Bay
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