For a teenager who didn’t enjoy his first rowing experience all that much, Qualicum Beach’s Kai Langerfeld sure has made amends.
Langerfeld’s father, who rowed at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, invited him one afternoon to go rowing. Just 13 years old, the experience wasn’t a memorable one and he vowed he would never find himself rowing again.
Fast forward a few years and Langerfeld’s rise since a chance meeting in a gym with the rowing coach at the University of Victoria has been nothing short of spectacular.
From the team at UVic to the national senior team, Langerfeld has shown that he knows how to get the job done.
As preparations for this summer’s World Rowing Championships are in their final stages, Langerfeld finds himself in the stroke seat of the men’s four.
His three crew mates, who follow the rhythm that he sets, are all silver medalists from the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
“They have a bond from those Olympics that I will never be a part off. But it is about looking forward, not backwards,” Langerfeld said.
“We are all out here working together every day, working hard together right now, today.It is what we do in the moment which will determine the future, not what we have done in the past. And besides, I am always receptive to feedback and I want to improve, I want to keep getting better. What more can you ask for?”
The four had a rough start to the quadrennial last year at the world championships, although Langerfeld was not a member of that particular crew.
This year the foursome finished with a bronze medal at the final stop on the world cup tour in Switzerland last month.
They are hoping to better that performance at the end of August in Amsterdam at the world championships.
“There is a lot of work to be done,” he said. “To be honest, I see myself rowing in Rio (2016) and Tokyo (2020). I think a gold medal in Tokyo is more realistic.”
For now, the goal is to get through the next workout on Buttle Lake, in Strathcona Provincial Park, here on Vancouver Island.
The isolated location has provided the men’s team with a large, secluded body of water to get some important work done away from distractions.
The world championships in Amsterdam will be the half way mark in the four-year cycle between the London and the Rio Games, a marker in the quadrennial that does not go unnoticed by athletes and coaches alike. But in typical fashion, Langerfeld absorbs it all in stride.
“We moved around a lot when I was a kid and it was hard to always be the new guy at school. Sometimes I did not have any friends, so I was alone with my thoughts a lot,” he said, “I think it made me a stronger person, it made me work harder and become a more resilient human being. I was never the loud guy anyways, never liked drawing attention to myself. I just put my head down and worked.”
— with files from Douglas Candor, Rowing Canada