“There are no stars on a dragon boat team.
But then there are no passengers either…”
– Hugh Fisher
With the Summer Olympics in Beijing just over
the horizon, I couldn’t help but reflect on the Sea to Sky corridor and those
individuals living here who have been successful in past Games. Alas, the list
is quite short. Whistler resident Shannon Smith won a bronze medal in swimming
at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and Steve Podborski followed with another
bronze in Lake Placid four years later. In 1992, current Squamish resident
Hillary Lindh won the silver medal in downhill as a member of the US Ski Team.
But beyond these three, the pickings get mighty slim…
Fortunately, there is Pemberton resident Dr.
Hugh Fisher. A double-medal winner in Los Angeles in flatwater kayaking (gold
and bronze), the blond-headed Fisher and his Mohawk partner Alwyn Morris
provided Canada with one of the most powerful images of the 1984 Games. Indeed,
few who witnessed the medal ceremony in LA will ever forget Morris proudly
lifting an eagle feather high in the air as the two teammates were awarded
their gold medal for the K-2 1000m sprint.
While Fisher is better known locally for
having coached the Laoyam Eagles to their 10
victory in a row in
the junior division at Vancouver’s International Dragon Boat Festival —
an outstanding feat given Pemberton Secondary’s 200 students — the
understated physician has a remarkable athletic resume. He was a member of four
Olympic Teams (from 1976 to 1988), a double medallist at the ’83 World
Championships and still today at 52, is one of the fastest Master’s paddlers on
Given all the talk about the “stuff” Whistler
will get in return for being an Olympic host, it’s interesting to note that
Fisher credits much of
to a Games legacy. But in his case, it didn’t come from the Olympics. “The
Canada Summer Games held in Burnaby in 1973 was hugely important,” he explains.
“The event itself was sort of forgettable for me, tipping as I did on the start
line... but the construction of a world class flatwater racing and training
venue on Burnaby Lake, about a mile from my house, was like an unbelievable
$1.2 million personal gift to me. I trained there for the next decade with many
world-class paddlers — including my future partner, Alwyn Morris.”