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This article was published 8/8/2017 (1303 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The quickening beat of Team Ontario’s drum lent a feeling of suspense to the 1,000-metre women’s kayak race on Monday afternoon.
But really, there was never much doubt.
Ontario’s Lexy Vincent and Genevieve L’Abbe led from the starting gun to the final buoys.
After the first few strokes, Vincent didn’t have a lot doubt, either.
"Once on the water... we feel really good and connected," she after the race.
Paddling is what she’s done all her life, submersed in the sport by a family that believes in the power of canoe and kayak.
"It allows us to be active. It’s a life skill and it’s part of who we are as Canadians — it’s traditional. Our country was opened up through the canoe," said Lexy’s mom Fiona.
Fiona and her husband Mike set a Canadian record in the 200-kilometre marathon canoe race from Kingston to Ottawa last month.
Their other two kids, Fearghus and Kenzie, are also marathon paddlers and Fearghus has a Canada Summer Games silver medal to his name.
The family that used to spend hours in side-by-side canoes hadn’t been in the same room since Christmas.
The Canada Summer Games brought them together this week — Lexy as an athlete, Fearghus as a coach for team Yukon, Kenzie as the village co-ordinator for the host society, and Fiona as Lexy’s support crew.
They had been separated by provinces, with Lexy coming from Ottawa, where she’s attending Carleton University, Feargus making the trip from Yukon, Kenzie living in Winnipeg, and Fiona travelling from Regina, the family’s hometown.
One face was missing in the reunion.
Lexy’s dad Mike went to be with Lexy’s grandfather after the sudden death of her grandmother — an event that turned Lexy’s post-race joy into grieving tears.
She hugged Fearghus on the dock for a few minutes before the two left with their arms around each other.
"I was lucky my brother was on the dock, and he knew right away what was going on," she said.
After taking a few minutes to recoup, Lexy returned to receive her gold medal to a chorus of cheers, which nearly rivalled the ones the Manitoba athletes got.
Lexy threw her arm around her mom joyfully after the medal ceremony in a demonstration of the closeness the family shares.
"(Paddling is) like the glue that holds us together," Fiona said.
Another thing linking the Vincents was the presence of red-and-white polka-dots — they littered Fearghus’s and Kenzie’s hats and were all over Lexy’s kayak seat.
Their grandfather, also a canoer, used to give the dotted hats to his kids so he could find them easily in a crowd.
The tradition was passed to the next generation along with canoeing, and now the younger Vincents still wear the hats.
"If you see a red polka dot hat in the marathon community, you know they’re related to the Vincents," Fiona said.