"In 1998, after the Nagano, Japan Olympics, Joan McKusker came to my elementary school and spoke to us about her Olympic experience. She spoke about her trials, her tribulations and her dreams. She let us touch, hold and even put on her Gold medal. It was after that experience that I knew one day, I would represent Canada. I began to dream of the Olympics and hearing O' Canada while standing on top of a podium."
When Kia Byers just fell short of earning a berth on the 2008 Olympic Games, her Olympic dream was not over. It was just put on hold. Byers was only 20-years-old back then and she was well aware that most of the world’s top paddlers don’t hit their stride until their mid-twenties. In fact, the 2012 Olympics had been her objective when she started paddling. It was just accelerated when she began to produce strong international results in 2005 and won two medals including a gold at the 2007 Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro.
In 2010, Byers is Canada’s K-1 200-metre Queen – which is the new Olympic distance for 2012 – and she will test herself in the event against an Olympic calibre field at the world championships. "I knew I would be a contender in the 200 this year but I had a big challenge in wrestling the spot from Emilie Fournel and Genevieve Orton. I worked a lot on technical stuff this year and that really helped my speed."
Last year, Byers made headlines across the country when her Pan Am medals and her bronze earned in the relay at the world championships last year in Halifax were stolen. They were taken from her car while she was at a speaking engagement on the positive values of sport in Saskatoon.
Originally from Regina, Byers got her start in paddling at the age of 9 after watching the Wascana Racing Canoe Club’s annual Canada Day Regatta with her father. He asked the coach if she could join, and once she tried it she was hooked.
Byers is a student in the faculty of education at the University of Regina.
Kia Byers Website
Canoe Kayak Canada
Motivate Canada’s Esteem Team Athlete Profile
Kia Byers inspires students with talk about life goals
ESTEEM Team Olympic Hopeful Kia Byers to talk with Regina students