Thank You Mom: Raising a Canadian Athlete

mark and mom

Connie-Lee Oldershaw is the mom of Olympic medalist Mark Oldershaw. As a third generation Olympian and the fifth member of his family to compete at the games, Mark is no stranger to the Olympic Games. The family legacy in canoe and kayak began with Mark’s grandfather Bert, who founded the Mississauga Canoe Club in 1958 following his three Olympic appearances. At the 2012 London Olympic Games, Mark became the first in his family to win a medal, capturing a bronze in C-1 1000m event. Mark has been a consistent podium contender in the C-1 1000m event ever since moving into a solo boat in 2006.

Coming from a long line of athletes doesn’t guarantee a medal, but doing whatever it takes to have your child succeed is never a sacrifice. My son, canoeist and bronze medalist, Mark Oldershaw was pretty much born with a paddle in his hand and it all started with his grandfather at the 1948 Olympic Games. Mark is a third generation Olympian and the fifth member of our family to compete at an Olympic Games. My husband, Scott and I knew from Mark’s early days as a child, our strong family influence and his love for the water that he was destined to carry on a pretty impressive legacy of competing among the best in the world.

Canoeing began with Mark’s grandfather Bert, who founded the Mississauga Canoe Club in 1958 after making three appearances at the Olympic Games and has been part of our family ever since. Mark grew up around The Burloak Canoe Club in Oakville, Ontario and was seven years old when he was first in a boat by himself. He began racing at age nine and began the journey to dedicating his life to the sport he loves.

Sports have always been a part of our family and I made sure we were always there to support one another. Mark has a brother and sister, Adam and Tessa, who are both very athletic and extremely involved in canoeing—it definitely runs in the family! From jetting to practices, to school and preparing meals on our down time, we made sure to always remain positive and maintain a strong family unit. Cheering each other on became a family tradition and one of our favourite ways to celebrate was to have family picnics or a meal following the regattas or practices!

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be his third time representing Canada following his bronze win at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Throughout Mark’s journey, there have been setbacks and failures, but the strength of our family and support was the best way to encourage him to keep working towards his dream. When Mark was going through his hand surgery and such a trying time, as a family we had to support him and remain positive. It helps that Mark is one of the most positive people I know and quitting is not in his vocabulary. That’s why we’re happy to be a part of P&G’s Thank You Mom program that champions the strength of moms and supports athletes all over the world. Of course as a first time dad with his wife Annamay, they are especially appreciative of the opportunity to represent the Pampers brand. Goodness knows—they certainly go through a lot of diapers!

Raising a Canadian athlete is an amazing job and I am incredibly proud of Mark’s accomplishments. I know that he will carry the lessons of strength and support into his own family, with Annamay as they raise their beautiful daughter, Josephine.

This post is brought to you by P&G.


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