One Size Fits All?

Champions Come In All Shapes And Sizes. 

— by Andrew Russell

In my sport this was particularly true; your ability to go fast was a measure of how you were able to apply force to a blade in the water. The bigger you were did not necessarily always translate into speed. 

It is amazing to see so many different canoers utilize different strokes and technical variations. Some used a higher stroke cadence, turning shorter quicker strokes with the paddle to try and generate maximal speed. Others use long methodical and smoother natured strokes that generated tremendous boat glide and a more efficient cadence.

"While there may have been common averages,

there really is not a one size fits all trend."

I had the pleasure of training alongside two of the best athletes in Canadian canoe kayak history, Karen Furneaux and Mike Scarola. Neither of these two athletes would have ever won a slam dunk contest, and were definitely on the smaller side of the athletic spectrum. However, what they lacked in height, they both made up for in training, tactics, and determination. These attributes led them both to multiple world championship medals and head turning performances. 

Mike Scarola pictured in back. (photo credit

Mike Scarola pictured in back. (photo credit


I also had the pleasure of training with Adam van Koeverden, who was never the biggest athlete in any of the four Olympics he competed in, but that did not stop him from winning four Olympic medals.


Here is the list of finalist athlete heights from his 2008 Beijing silver medal, to emphasize that height for example is not necessarily a determinant of performance. 

  1. Steven Ferguson 1.94 m
  2. Anton Ryakhov 1.93 m
  3. Anders Gustafsson 1.93 m
  4. Ken Wallace 1.90 m (gold medal)
  5. Tim Brabants 1.89 m (bronze medal)
  6. Akos Verecki 1.88 m
  7. Stjepan Janic 1.84 m
  8. Erik Veras Larsen 1.82 m
  9. Adam van Koeverden 1.82 m (silver medal)


As you challenge yourself, set new goals, and make progress, remember there is not one size fits all formula. Remember this can obviously be applied well beyond athletics. Conjure up the confidence and determination, and buck the trend. 

Yours in finding confidence and bucking the trend,