By Kylie MacLellan
DORNEY, England (Reuters) - Sixty-four years after his grandfather Bert missed out on a medal at the 1948 London Games, Canada's Mark Oldershaw returned to Britain to finally claim an Olympic medal for the illustrious canoeing family.
Oldershaw, who brought his grandfather's canoe paddle with him to London for good luck, took bronze in the men's canoe single 1,000 meters on Wednesday.
"To have come full circle and to finally get the Oldershaw name on the Olympic podium, I am really proud of this," said Oldershaw, whose grandfather finished fifth in a 10,000 meter race held just down the road from Dorney at Henley-on-Thames.
"I think I am going to get everyone here to sign (my paddle), just like my grandfather did in 1948 and give it to my grandson or granddaughter."
The Oldershaw name is indelibly linked to canoeing in Canada, as Mark's father Scott and uncles Dean and Reed also competed for the country in Olympic canoe regattas.
"That was amazing, I am so proud and happy," said Scott, now the Canadian team coach. "This is one of the bronze medals that means almost as much as a gold. It will obviously mean a lot to all of us, the whole family."
The third-generation canoeist's career was put in jeopardy when he was diagnosed with a non-cancerous tumor on his hand in 2003, narrowly missing qualifying for the 2004 Games after having the first of two operations to remove the growth.
"He basically spent a year when he was in constant pain," said dad Scott. "He couldn't grip the top of his paddle so he and his brother made a swivel joint to attach to the end of the paddle and to his wrist so that he could compete without using the top of his hand."
It was the second canoeing medal for Canada on Wednesday, after the country's most famous canoeist, Adam van Koeverden, took silver in the men's kayak single 1,000m.
Van Koeverden, Canada's face of the Games and favorite for the title, narrowly missed out on the gold to his training partner of 14 years Norway's Eirik Veras Larsen.
"I could see Eirik out of the corner of my eye and I just thought 'I have done this last quarter with Eirik on my shoulder so many times, let's do it again' and I did it as best I could," said the 30-year-old, who started canoeing at the Burloak canoe club where Scott Oldershaw was head coach for 17 years before his other son Adam took over.
"Eirik and I both had a gold, silver and a bronze, so we were tied, this was the tie breaker and hats off to him."
With the weight of the country's expectations on his shoulders, van Koeverden had been seeking to atone for his performance in Beijing when he finished an inexplicable eighth.
"It is not the case of a screwed up race plan, it is a case of one man in the whole world being better than me," he said. "Out of seven billion people, one guy is better."
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan)
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