Three years ago, Alex Matson was looking to try a new sport.
Up until that point, the 14-year-old had primarily played ice hockey. But he was getting bored with the sport and didn’t think he was going anywhere.
“And I was looking for a fresh start,” he explained.
Matson saw a sign on the side of the road advertising a learn to row introductory program offered by the Fort Langley Youth Rowing Society.
It turned out to be a good decision.
Beginning Sunday, Matson is in Rotterdam, Netherlands as part of Canada’s junior national team. They are competing at the world rowing junior championships, which run Aug. 21 to 28.
The team is made up of rowers under the age of 19 and come from 21 rowing clubs across Canada.
“We were happy with the results from the selection trials and believes that this group of athletes has the ability to perform at a high level this summer,” said Peter Cookson, the high performance director for Rowing Canada Aviron, in a press release.
“The athletes came in ready to compete for a spot on the team and we saw impressive performances by everyone.
“The junior team is integral to the development of future senior rowers and we’re very happy with the progress this group is making.”
When Matson tried out for the team, he was actually aiming for a roster spot for the Can Am Mex team. Instead, he was chosen for the world junior championships.
“My times were fast enough (and) I ended up doing better than I thought and wound up making it to the junior national team for worlds,” he admitted.
Matson — who graduated from Walnut Grove in June — had planned on moving to Victoria for September to attend the University of Victoria and row for the Vikes.
But his selection to the Canadian junior national team sped the process up.
He has been in Victoria since July 2, training at Elk Lake, one of Rowing Canada’s training centres.
“We have been training every day, two times a day, with the exception of Saturdays having the whole day off,” he said.
In order to train in Victoria, Matson had to give up a couple of summer jobs he had lined up to save for university.
“It was definitely difficult to give up my summer it will be worth it I am pretty sure,” he said.
And this is proving Matson right in his decision to switch sports.
That first year, 2014, he represented the Fraser Valley at the BC Summer Games, winning a gold and silver in individual events while teaming with another Langley rower, Tanner Wick, to win silver and a pair of bronze medals in doubles competition.
There were no major competitions last year and now he gets to see how the Canadian rowers stack up against the counterparts from around the world.
“I am just looking forward to where we will place; I am kind of curious to know,” he said.
“We have a lot of positive support. I am really looking forward to seeing how we can perform.”
Matson will compete in the quadruple sculls.
And with one international competition soon to be under his belt, he is hoping this is just the first.
Matson has set a goal to make the Canadian U23 team either in 2017 or 2018 and then perhaps the senior national team further down the road.
Learn to row camp next week
The Fort Langley Youth Rowing Society is offering one more week of learn to row programs, Aug. 22 to 26 on Bedford Channel. If there is enough interest, there may be another week of programs beginning Aug. 29.
The sessions are for two hours a day for five days and participants learn basic terminology and prepare rowers to enter the club program. Rowers must be able to carry a minimum of 30 pounds and be able to swim.
For more details and information, click here.