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Credit: Getty Images

Ryan Cochran is one of the strong contenders for an Olympic medal on Canada's swim team

Have the London 2012 Olympic Games got you inspired to row, swim or volley a ball on the beach? Here are a few British Columbian Olympians to look to for inspiration and where you can try their sport in BC

As you watch Canada's Olympic athletes strive for gold at the London 2012 Games, you might get the sudden urge to hop off the couch and have a go at one of the sports yourself. Several dozen British Columbians are hoping for some podium time at the London Olympics, and they’re competing in sports that range from table tennis to soccer, and mountain biking to sailing.

Read on to learn more about the Olympians, their sports and where you can learn them. You might not end up competing in the Olympics—but you will get fit, have some fun and meet a few new people.

Rowing

North Vancouver siblings Lauren and Michael Wilkinson are both making their Olympic debut (she'll be in the eight crew and he's in the coxless fours). Both took up rowing at the Burnaby Lake Rowing Club before moving on to varsity teams.

Where to Try it: Burnaby Lake is currently not offering lessons but there are several other local clubs that will get you into a shell with your feet on the footplates and your hands on the oars. Introductory classes run from one day to several weeks and include terminology, technique and plenty of on-the-water time.

Mountain Biking

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Kamloops' Catharine Pendrel
(Image: joménager)

 

Kamloops rider Catharine Pendrel is considered a medal favourite at the London Olympics. She came in forth in Beijing and went on from there to become world champion. She hasn’t always been great at the sport; when she arrived at UVIC, borrowed mountain bike in hand, she needed to convince the cycling coach to take her on.

Where to Try it: The Whistler Mountain Bike Park offers rentals and more than 60 trails that are suitable for a range of skill levels. Or, if you want a few tips before setting off on your own, check out the options for training and tours.

Sailing

Richard Clarke from Salt Spring Island will be competing in his fifth Olympics in the Star Class (his fifth Olympiad but first in a Star). The Star, which has been a fixture in Olympic sailing since 1932, is being retired this year to make way for more modern boats.

Where to Try it: Take a sailing class at Mac Sailing. Founded by two-time Olympic Medallist (1992 and 2004) Ross MacDonald, the school offers a variety of classes on evenings, weekdays and weekends. You won’t start off in a Star, but you can check out the local Star fleet when it races on the bay.

Beach Volleyball

Vancouver Islander Martin Reader started off as a swimmer but an allergy to chlorine set him looking for a new sport. He discovered beach volleyball during (ironically enough) an indoor demonstration of the sport.

Where to Try it: Volleyball BC has indoor and outdoor leagues for all levels. It also offers multi-week skills clinics where you'll learn the basics of serving, forearm passing, setting, hitting, blocking, digging and playing the game.

Swimming

Ryan Cochran of Victoria, won bronze in the 1500m freestyle in Beijing. He’s seen as a strong medal contender this time round as well—one of several on Canada’s swim team.

Where to Try it: Just about any neighbourhood pool offers lessons to help you improve your stroke and speed. Levels one and two get you comfortable in the water and familiar with the mechanics of swimming, while levels three and four improve your technique and teach you to get the most out of a workout.

Table Tennis

Twenty-year-old Andre Ho from Richmond is the youngest member of the Canadian Table Tennis team. He got there by deciding to take his Olympic goal seriously and put off university to train away from home for the past 18 months.

Where to Try it: Ping pong tables show up in loads of locations, but if you want to give the game a more serious go, join a local club and work up to a tournament.

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Team Canada Captain
Christine Sinclair
(Image: kkimphotography)

 

Soccer

The women’s team has already played (and lost) its first game of the London Olympics. But team captain Christine Sinclair of Burnaby is still hoping the intensive fitness regime they’ve been following will mean the team does better than they did in Beijing and get through to the top eight and beyond.

Where to Try it: Loved the game as a kid and want to give it another go? Check out these leagues.

You’ll find teams looking for players and other information about how to get back in the game.

For more on how to catch all the action at the London 2012 Games, check out our Olympics viewing guide.