Canada Games Alumni Profile

Richard Dalton
7/9/20
Bernie Puchalski, BP Sports Niagara

Alumni Spotlight: Richard Dalton

Twenty-seven years after competing as a 13-year-old in the Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, B.C., Richard Dalton still gets excited when talking about the 1993 event.

“The elements of the Games that really stuck for me was being from Nova Scotia and the Games were held in B.C.,” he said. “Going that far to compete as part of my sporting career, it was the first time I had done a trip like that. It was quite an adventure to go that far.”

And there was the swag, including the provincial track suits.

“We had these really cool blue and white Nova Scotia track suits. Just being given that suit to wear and represent the province at that age, it was quite a humbling experience,” the 40-year-old said.

The whole experience was amazing.

“It was everything from the Athletes Village, which was a spectacular experience, and the pin trading was a huge thing,” he said. “Meeting the athletes from other provinces was just fascinating; people from the Yukon and other places. I made a lot of friends that way.”

He also enjoyed the Opening Ceremony and competing in his three events.

“All of those things were so huge for me compared to what I had experienced prior to it,” he said. “Even now, I still consider it a highlight of my career.”

He describes the 1993 Games as unexpected because of his age.

“At the time of the Games, I was still 13 and I think I was the youngest medallist at the Games,” he said. “I was very young for that level of competition but at the same point, I was training hard at the time and I was able to beat some of the guys who were older and make the team.”

His C2 partner for the 1993 Games was 17.

Like many other Canada Games alumni, the event marked a pivotal point in Dalton’s career. “Starting at a younger age, it set my sights higher for the future and what my expectations were for the level of competition I could compete at,” he said. “From there, my career progressed so it was definitely a jumping off point.”

His career would end up including: three bronze medals at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships; a silver medal at the 2000 world marathon championships; a gold medal at the 2002 World University Games in Italy; a gold medal at the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico; and, sixth-place finishes in the C-1 500 metres and C-1 1000 metres at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

“The Olympics is obviously head and shoulders above anything else because in amateur sport it is the peak,” he said. “The World University Games is technically the one time I won a world championship so that was kind of neat.”

Dalton is no longer competing, but he volunteers his time both locally and provincially as a coach.

“I still like to get out myself once in a while,” he said. “I don’t put any serious time or focus into it but it has become a fun, recreational exercise opportunity for me.”

His paddling destination of choice is the recreational waterway in Welland.

Canoeing will always be a passion for him.

“It takes in a bunch of different elements that are unique,” he said. “You are dealing with water, you are out in nature and the outdoor sport is something that I really enjoyed.

“It is also technically a difficult sport to get good at. Fitness and strength are important but the technique is really tough and you are never done fine-tuning your skills.”

Dalton will play an important role in the Niagara 2021 Canada Summer Games in his role as the City of Welland’s manager of recreation and culture.

He is the local liaison with the 2021 Canada Games Host Society. Welland will be hosting baseball at the Welland Baseball Stadium, canoe and kayak, open water swimming and triathlon at the Welland International Flatwater Centre and soccer at the Youngs Sportsplex.

“I am working closely with a number of members on the Canada Games team on the sports side because our facilities are being used but there’s also the really cool 13 for 13 Program and the cultural programs that are going to happen.”

The 13 for 13 Cultural Program partners each community in Niagara with one of the 13 Canadian provinces and territories and will see 13 different cultural events take place across the Niagara Region during the 2021 Canada Summer Games.

Team Quebec is Welland’s partner province and the Quebec team will be a guest of honour in Welland. “There is a big French population in Welland so it is a natural fit,” he said. “We are looking forward to hosting our portion of the Games and seeing the Games come to life in the region. Having been an athlete, it is interesting to see it take shape from the side that I am on now.”

Dalton is excited about Niagara hosting the Games and feels Niagara residents are in for a treat.

“It is a great celebration of our country’s youth and sport and there is a lot of fun associated with it,” he said. “The average resident will want to be around this to enjoy the competitions, to see the athletes from all the provinces coming together to create this festive and celebratory atmosphere.”

He encourages people to volunteer for the Games.

“It’s being hands-on, bringing it to life and showcasing what we have in the region. It is a great, great event.”

Next year will also be a big year for Dalton on a personal note. He will head back to Halifax next year for his induction into the Nova Scotia Sports Wall of Fame. He was originally set to be enshrined this year as part of the class of 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the ceremony for a year.

This report was filed by BP Sports Niagara, which is owned and operated by Bernie Puchalski and Bill Potrecz

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