MISSISSAUGA SPORTS HALL OF FAME

LOEK, Fred

Rowing

Born:  November 8, 1948 

Holland

Readers of The Mississauga News often must have wondered how the newspaper's chief photographer, Fred Loek, managed to capture those captivating award-winning images of stunning sunrises on the Credit River. To those who know Freddie, the secret is no secret at all because they also know that for years, from early spring to autumn frost, day in and day out, Freddie was up with the birds and out on the Credit mixing business with pleasure. His business is professional photography, and he has enough awards to testify that he's very good at his craft. He had taken several of these sunrise award winning photographs while out on the water in his coach's boat.

 

Freddie is very good at rowing too. In his younger days, as a competitor, he achieved modest success, but they fail in comparison to his accomplishments as a love-of-the-sport part -time "hobby coach." Sisters Silken and Daniele Laumann, Rob Marland, Jeff Lay, John Wallace and Kay Worthington - all Olympic medal winners - and world champion Heather Hattin are but a few athletes who had, at one time or another on their rise to world-class status, benefited at the Don Rowing Club from Fred Loek's coaching skills and considerable understanding and knowledge of the sport he so passionately keeps on loving.

 

It was only fitting that the Laumann sisters and Loek were all inducted into Mississauga's Sports Hall of Fame together in 1999 during the silver anniversary of the annual Mississauga Sports Dinner.

Born in the Netherlands, Loek - a member of the Dutch National Junior Squad - emigrated to Canada, settled in Port Credit, competed a bit then became coach and a mainstay of the Don Rowing Club.

 

As a competitor, his best Canadian result saw him on top of presentation podium as a winner in the 1976 Henley Regatta in St. Catharines.

But it was as a coach where he really found his niche, particularly his ability to spot raw talent, introduce them to rowing and instill a desire for pursuit of excellence. Rob Marland and John Wallace (gold medallists with the Canadian eight in the Barcelona Olympics), Heather Hattin (junior world champion with Anita Molar in Moscow in 1979), Silken Laumann (winner of two silvers and one bronze medal in Olympic competition) and Jeff Lay (Olympic silver medallist in Atlanta) were all discovered and coached by Loek.

 

His first taste of coaching success came in 1991 when Heather Hattin and Anita Moller won the World junior pairs title in Moscow. In the '84 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Silken and Daniele Laumann won a pairs bronze medal for Canada and the following year the Port Credit club's lightweight tandem of Cameron Harvey and Rob Haag became bronze medal winners in the Canadian Championships.

 

In '87, Freddie had some outstanding successes as he coached Silken Laumann through a nagging back injury to a bronze medal in the Universiade Games in Zagreb then to a Pan American Games gold in Indianapolis. Rob Haag was also a member of the Pan Am Games' Canadian Team. In Copenhagen, Heather Hattin (this time teamed with Janice mason) became world doubles champion. The following year Freddie went to the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea as a national rowing squad coach for Heather Hattin, Silken Laumann and Kay Worthington, a time-consuming honour that kept him away from the Mississauga News for six months. But it was well worth it, providing Freddie with an experience many dream of but few will ever realize - he had coached in an Olympic competition.

His volunteer coaching accomplishments had earned Freddie a recognition award from the Canadian Rowing Association and, closer to home, an Outstanding Contribution to Community Sports Award, in Mississauga.

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