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Out of the Boathouse

Rowing star Derk Porter - on the water again

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Out of the Boathouse

Derek Porter, Olympic medalist and world champion singles rowing star is drawn to the holistic nature of chiropractic. From his early rowing days at UVic, he realized the performance-enhancing benefits of regular treatments with the team chiropractor. A regular reader of <i>alive</i> magazine, Porter fully subscribes to a natural, organic lifestyle.

“Rowing is one of those special old friends who will welcome you back at any time and tell you something new and wonderful.”

-Stephen Kiesling, author and former competitive rower

The bright yellow of the scull is barely visible through the haze of a morning cloudburst as Derek Porter, Olympic medalist and world champion singles rowing star, cuts effortlessly through the protected waters of Deas Slough near Vancouver, BC, at the end of a routine 25-kilometre training row. Why has this 38-year-old former world-class rower and full-time chiropractor roused himself from a warm bed on a bleak, cold, and wet Saturday morning to put in a 25-kilometre workout? “People ask me if I’m trying to make a ‘comeback’. I had to think about that question,” says Porter. Following an extremely successful rowing career with many honours, including Olympic gold and silver as well as Pan Am and world-championship wins to his credit, Porter hung up his oars after the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Since then, along with a successful chiropractic practice, Porter has filled his time with a full schedule of training, sating his competitive juices by racing Olympic-distance triathlons –about five times a year. It seems that Porter has succumbed, once again, to the lure of the oar prints; the bubbles under the hull; and the thrill of achieving that perfect stroke. “My immediate plan is to train for and then participate in the Canadian trials at the beginning of the summer, qualify for the 2006 Canadian national team, and race at the World Rowing Championships in Eton, [Great] in August.” With his close friend, Jake Wetzel (Olympic silver, 2004), Porter has set his long-term sights on racing a double in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. No small feat for a (by then) 40-year-old. But this is no ordinary quadragenarian. Porter has used his time away from the boathouse well. During his early rowing career he learned of the benefits of regular chiropractic maintenance. So, it was a natural progression from Victoria and his health sciences degree to Toronto where he completed a degree in chiropractic. Now based in Vancouver, Porter has a thriving practice. “I was drawn to the holistic nature of chiropractic. From my early rowing days at UVic, I realized the performance-enhancing benefits of regular treatments with the team chiropractor,” says Porter. “What I also learned along the way was that grabbing three doughnuts before practice and then quenching my thirst with a Big Gulp afterward just wasn’t a diet plan for success.” This pretty much summed up the level of priority that was given to nutritional planning during his early days with the national team. Nowadays Porter is much more informed and practises what he also preaches to his patients. A regular reader of alive magazine, Porter fully subscribes to a natural, organic lifestyle to keep himself–and his patients–in top form. As for the comeback question, Porter says, “I’d rather think of it as an opportunity to team up with a good friend, focus on performing at my best–rather than on winning–and enjoy the glide.” (Photos by Carmen Schmid)

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