Embattled canoe star Laurence Vincent Lapointe named to Canadian Olympic team

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Canada's Laurence Vincent Lapointe, pictured in 2015, was named to the Canadian Tokyo Olympic team on Wednesday. (Aaron Lynett/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Canada's Laurence Vincent Lapointe, pictured in 2015, was named to the Canadian Tokyo Olympic team on Wednesday. (Aaron Lynett/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Thirteen-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe was officially nominated to Canada's canoe sprint Olympic team on Wednesday, the end of a long saga for the medal favourite who nearly missed out on the Olympics altogether.

The 29-year-old from Trois-Rivieres, Que., will compete in the C2 500-metre race alongside Katie Vincent, and both will race individually in the C1 200.

"I will be given the chance to go write history at the Games. So for me it's relieving, but also so exciting to be given that chance. And it's not complicated, but when I got the vest and I tried it on, I got the chills," she told media on Wednesday.

Vincent Lapointe was forced to miss the 2019 world championships, a key Tokyo 2020 qualifying event, after she was provisionally suspended for a failed drug test. However, she was later cleared after it was revealed the failure was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her ex-boyfriend.

As a result, Canada wound up with just one quota spot in the the women's C1 200-metre race, the event's Olympic debut.

In March, Katie Vincent of Mississauga, Ont, won that spot by 0.032 seconds over Vincent Lapointe at national trials. Still, both women were included on the team of 16 athletes.

Olympic spot 'guaranteed'

Now, Vincent Lapointe will either take one of Canada's quota spots in kayak, which she will then use to enter the canoe races, or the International Olympic Committee will approve an extra canoe spot for her.

"[Canoe Kayak Canada's] stated performance objective in its stated criteria was to win two to three medals at the Games, and so with that ability in the selection criteria we were able to put a process in place that if the IOC says no to the additional spots, the alternate mechanism is available and [Vincent Lapointe's] place on the Olympic team is guaranteed," said CKC lawyer Adam Klivenas.

WATCH | Postponed Olympics may work in Vincent Lapointe's favour:

Vincent Lapointe and Vincent are now instant podium contenders in both events.

The Quebec native already holds the world record in the C1 200 at 44.504 seconds. She says her goal is to set a new mark in Tokyo.

"I'm not going there thinking like, 'Oh, I'm going to beat this person or that person.' I'm just going there wanting to do my best race because I believe that if I do my best race, my best race can be better than everyone else's best race," she said.

The Canadian duo also holds the world record in the C2 500 at one minute 51.428 seconds.

Sport now gender-equal

As women's canoe sprint debuts, it will mark the first time the sport has been gender-equal in Olympic history.

"When the starter says 'go' in Tokyo, it will be a moment I hope all Canadians and paddlers will celebrate. It is hard not to reflect on the journey to get here but beyond the results, it's been the wildest, most rewarding year of my life," Vincent said in a statement.

"These Olympic Games will be an opportunity to celebrate and reap the rewards of our hard work, resilience and dedication. We can't control the outcome but we can commit to doing our best and leaving it all on the water."

For Vincent Lapointe, the wait for the sport she's dominated for so long to finally reach the Olympic stage came with some added stress just before the finish line. But she said her training regimen never wavered.

"To me, it hasn't changed much except that now I'm super excited that I get to wear the amazing clothes and I get to represent my country," she said.

Also competing for Canada is Mark De Jonge, who won K1 200 bronze at the 2012 London Olympics and is returning for his third Games.

Meanwhile, Andréanne Langlois will compete at her second Olympics after participating in a pair of kayak events in Rio.

Full canoe/kayak team

Women's canoe

  • Katie Vincent (Mississauga Canoe Club)

  • Laurence Vincent Lapointe (Trois-Rivières Canoe-Kayak Club)

Men's canoe

  • Connor Fitzpatrick (Senobe Aquatic Club)

  • Roland Varga (Richmond Hill Canoe Club)

Women's kayak

  • Alanna Bray-Lougheed (Burloak Canoe Club)

  • Andréanne Langlois (Club de canoë-kayak de Trois-Rivières)

  • Courtney Stott (Balmy Beach Canoe Club)

  • Lissa Bissonnette (Point-Claire Canoe Kayak Club)

  • Madeline Schmidt (Rideau Canoe Club))

  • Michelle Russell (Cheema Aquatic Club)

Men's kayak

  • Brian Malfesi (Ridge Canoe and Kayak Club)

  • Mark de Jonge (Maskwa Aquatic Club)

  • Nicholas Matveev (Balmy Beach Canoe Club)

  • Pierre-Luc Poulin (Lac-Beauport Canoe Club)

  • Simon McTavish (Mississauga Canoe Club)

  • Vincent Jourdenais (Club de canoe-kayak de vitesse de Trois-Rivieres)

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