They look like they could be Brock students, save for the fact they carry paddles instead of books.
For the past week, more than 800 young athletes from around the world, decked out in their national colours, have been calling Brock home as they get ready for the 2013 International Canoe Federation Junior and Under-23 Sprint Canoe Championships. The competition starts Thursday in Welland and runs until Aug. 4.
The paddlers, representing 57 countries, are here until Aug. 5, occupying rooms in every residence on campus except for Earp and Quarry View.
“It’s quite an economic impact on the region,” said Nancy Sutton, Brock’s conference co-ordinator. “I’ve seen them wandering around the Pen (Centre). If they’re coming all this way, they’re wanting to see the sights, going to Toronto, going to see the (Niagara) Falls.”
Though Brock is an obvious place for the athletes to rest their heads at night, and fuel up on breakfast and dinner, Sutton said plans have been in the works for the past four years to bring “future Olympians from every country” to campus.
Brock began working with the Welland International Flatwater Centre soon after the paddling course located on a previous incarnation of the Welland Canal won the bid to host the competition.
“We have a great relationship with the Welland Flatwater Centre and we want to be the athletes village for upcoming events,” Sutton said.
Once the current group of paddlers leaves Monday, Sutton and crew will get ready to welcome 1,400 people, including about 80 monks, attending a mindfulness retreat led by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
Planning for their stay from Aug. 11-16 has been in the works for two years, she said.