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The List: 10 things Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden can’t live without

Adam van Koeverden Adam van Koeverden

1 | My Oakley shades
I have dozens of pairs. I know it’s excessive, but I need a different pair for everything I do—mountain biking, hiking, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, kayaking. In London, I’ll probably wear my Radarlocks. The lenses clip in and out, so I can quickly change my tint for sun or cloud.

Adam van Koeverden2 | My Turbo paddle
My oars are custom designed and handcrafted in Smiths Falls, Ontario, by Peter Patasi, a kayaker who represented Canada at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. He makes them with carbon graphite—the same material that’s used in Space Shuttles and Formula One race cars.

3 | My guitarlele
I like playing guitar, but I can’t justify lugging one around when I’m travelling. I got this six-string ukulele hybrid last year in Germany. It relaxes me, even though I’m not very good at it.

Adam van Koeverden4 | My trophy
The Bert Oldershaw trophy, named for one of my mentors, is presented to the winner of the K-1 1,000-metre Canadian kayak championship every year. After my 10th win, they made a replica of the real trophy and gave it to me for keeps.

5 | My favourite author
When Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007, I felt like I’d lost an uncle. If I ever get a tattoo, it’ll be my favourite quote from his essay collection A Man Without a Country: “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

6 | My fixie
I bike everywhere on my Specialized Globe Roll—to the bank, to the movies, out for dinner. I’m always showing up sweaty. I’m definitely one of those bike-riding pinkos Don Cherry complains about.

7 | My running shoes
I’ve been running for longer than I’ve been kayaking. It’s good for my mental health—a run in the woods is the best therapy. I like Asics Gel-DS trainers. They’re the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn.

Adam van Koeverden8 | My cabin in the woods
I’ve built my own small place on South Tea Lake in Algonquin Park—it’s 250 square feet, with a steel panel roof, uninsulated walls and pine siding. There’s no running water or electricity. My days are consumed with chopping wood and clearing brush. It’s endless work, which I love.

9 | My decrepit hoodie
It’s a decade old and tattered, and it smells like campfire. I could get a new one, but I like the feel of soft, well-worn cotton. I wear it everywhere. Fortunately, this is Canada, so wearing a hoodie is acceptable pretty much all the time.

Adam van Koeverden10 | My African instruments
I’ve been to Africa twice with the charity Right to Play. I got a drum at a Liberian market in 2007 and a stringed instrument in Mali in 2011. The latter was a thank-you gift from a young man I took for a kayak ride on the Niger River. Both instruments sit on a coffee table in my condo. They’re good conversation starters.

(Images: Liam Mogan)