Whether it’s rowing for a medal or rowing across an ocean, Adam Kreek is nothing if not determined.
The Saunders Secondary School graduate was part of a favoured Canadian men’s eight that finished a disappointing fifth at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Four years of hard work later, he came back in Beijing and helped the Canadian men’s eight capture the gold in the sport’s signature event on its biggest stage.
Like Athens, the Canucks were favoured to win gold and this time they came through. The crew had won the 2007 world championship title as well as back-to- back editions of the prestigious Lucerne World Cup in 2007 and 2008. And once in Beijing, they was described as “swaggering around” by six-time Olympic medallist Steven Redgrave, who was commentating for the BBC. That swagger was well deserved, as they won their heat by more than seven seconds.
In the final, the Canadians jumped out quickly and at the 500m mark had a quarter of a boat length lead. They continued to blow away the field, extending the lead to a full boat length at the midway point. Then it was just a matter of holding off a late charge by Great Britain and the United States to claim the gold medal.
Five years later, Adam took on challenge far more daunting than a 2,000-metre race. In January 2013, he and three others attempted to row unsupported across the Atlantic from Africa to North America. Their goals were to advocate for adventure as a tool for self-development, to educate youth about the importance of sustaining the health our oceans resources, and to collect scientific data about the state of the Atlantic Ocean.
However, after four years of planning and 73 days at sea in their 29-foot rowboat, Adam and his teammates capsized just 10 days short of their final destination, MIami. Fortunately, everyone survived and much of their equipment and data was saved.
Since his retirement from competitive rowing, Adam has gone on to many ventures, including that of a motivational speaker. But the spark for that chapter in his life may have come in Beijing.
It was his singing of O Canada at the medal ceremony that triathlete Simon Whitfield used as inspiration for his own silver medal-winning performance. Whitfield wrote “Sing like Adam Kreek” on the handlebars of his bike and repeated “Sing like Kreek” to himself as he neared the end of the gruelling race.
Such is the impact Adam Kreek has had on others, as a rower and now as he strives to share his studies in human performance, achievement and well-being to motivate others with his Victoria-based Kreek Speak outfit.
His rowing legacy is among Canada’s best. Besides the Beijing gold, he won gold at the world championships in 2002, 2003 and 2007 and won six World Cup gold medals between 2003 and 2008, all in the eight-man shell. All told, he won more than 60 medals, 27 of them in international competitions. Of those 60-plus medals, 43 of them were gold.
Adam is also involved in a number of environmental and conservation causes, including the Canadian Wildlife Federation, is an ardent supporter of biodiesel fuel and is a former board member of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
In addition to his work with numerous organizations, Adam has worked with thousands of youth in schools across Canada, instilling in them the idea that the “secret to happy living is giving.”
Adam and his wife, Rebecca Sterritt, live in Victoria with their four-year-old son, Jefferson, and one-year-old daughter, Victoria.
Ladies and gentlemen, Adam Kreek.