Jeremiah Brown

Jeremiah Brown

Jeremiah Brown was at a crossroads in his life. As a teenager in Cobourg, Jeremiah participated in a variety of sports, most notably with the Midget A team that won an Ontario Hockey Federation championship in 2001-02. A Football walk-on at McMaster University, Jeremiah would make the varsity team and become a two-year starter at Offensive Tackle, along the way being recognized as the team's Most Improved Offensive Player.

After graduating Jeremiah was searching for a new athletic challenge – and he found it in rowing. Inspired by watching the Canadian Men's Eight Rowing Team win the Gold Medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jeremiah made a vow to be a part of the same team and win the Gold at the 2012 London Olympics, a mere four years away.

A novice rower, Jeremiah and his family moved to Victoria, B.C, site of the National Rowing Team's training facilities. Upon arriving, he met Doug White, who agreed to coach him. Commencing a learn-to-row program, Jeremiah would quickly put in 1700 hours of training, and by the fall of 2009, he was representing British Columbia in the National Championships. In 2010, he captured a silver medal at the National Championships in the single sculls, and in January 2011 he was named to the national rowing team. Later that year he would claim a bronze medal at the World Championships as part of the Men's Eight. In 2012, Jeremiah would gain another bronze medal at the World Cup in Men's Eights, where in an earlier heat, his team would set a “World's Best Time” that would stand for the next eight years.

Just three weeks before the London Olympics were set to begin, Jeremiah would be named to the Canadian Men's Eights team, where he would fulfill his dream, standing on the podium after Canada won the 2012 Olympic Silver Medal. Jeremiah transitioned again shortly afterward, leaving rowing behind, throwing himself into another passion of his; music. He has also penned a best-selling memoir “The 4 Year Olympian”, and become an in-demand motivational speaker.



Team or Principal Name

Boating-Dragon Boat and Canoe Club

Masters War Canoe


In November of 1998, Dorothy Hampson, a local breast cancer survivor, read an article about the research of Don McKenzie, a Canadian sports medicine specialist at the University of British Columbia. Mr. McKenzie had shown that the sport of dragon boating was of great benefit to women like her, both physically and psychologically.


Dorothy decided to test the waters here in Cobourg to see if there would be support for her ideas of forming a dragon boat team for breast cancer survivors, so she placed an article in the local newspaper. Not only did she get responses from survivors, she also piqued the interest of two local business people who saw this as the start of a sport for everyone.


A key recruit was Jeremy Fowlie, a National-level paddler who lived in Cobourg and was looking for a new challenge, and coaching dragon boating fit the bill! The spring of 1999 saw the launch of the first dragon boat in the Cobourg Harbour. Three teams shared that inaugural boat: a breast cancer survivor team, known as the Survivor Thrivers, a mixed team, and a women’s team.


By the fall of 1999, after a successful first season, the two community teams decided to incorporate as a sports club, and the Cobourg Dragon Boat Club was born. The Survivor Thrivers formed their own charitable group, the Survivor Thriver Breast Cancer Survivor Society. In July, 2018, the Survivor Thrivers competed in the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission Championship held in Florence, Italy. There they placed 13th in a field of 126 teams

Over the first few years, the popularity of the sport and the club grew. At a highpoint, the club had upwards of 140 members or associate members, paddling on a variety of dragon boat teams including mixed and women’s teams. Paddlers ranged in age from 17 to 75. Teams participated in several festivals each year, usually including the Toronto International Dragon Boat Festival, the Belleville Festival and the Stratford Festival. With generous grants from local groups such as the Rotary Club of Cobourg and from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the club expanded its fleet to three dragon boats.

In 2000, the club decided to host a festival in the Cobourg Harbour and donate the proceeds to the Northumberland United Way. Since then, each year they have held a festival on the fourth Saturday in September. As of 2019, the Northumberland United Way Challenge the Dragon Festival had raised over $500,000.

In 2006, the club sent a Grand Masters (over 50 yrs) team, a women’s team and a men’s team to the Club Crew World Championship races in Toronto. Cobourg paddled against teams from many countries including Germany, China, the USA, Australia and the Philippines.


In 2010, the club formally changed its name to the Cobourg Dragon Boat and Canoe Club (CDBCC) to reflect the fact that it had expanded to add a new division of sprint racing in canoes and kayaks. The “Original 6” competitive paddlers were Isaac Clapp, Emily Jenkins, Mackenzie Jenkins, Kadan Johnson, Kate Saman, and Britany Saunders.

With a fleet of boats that include C1s, C2s, C4s (canoes for one, two or four paddlers); K1s, K2s, K4s (kayaks for one, two or four paddlers); and war canoes; the club now offered both recreational and competitive training to youth and adults in a variety of programs. Paddlers from the club compete in the Western Ontario Division of Canoe Kayak Canada. Within the first few years, the club had several paddlers qualify to paddle at the provincial and even national level.

In its second year, the new sprint club won it first Burgee (overall winners in a division or category) at the Ontario Championship for U15 Women. The U15 Women repeated at the next Ontario Championships. In total, Cobourg has won twelve Burgees since 2011, including some for U13 and para athletes. Since 2010, the sprint division paddlers have received over 80 medals at the Ontario Championship regatta.

Cobourg competed for the first time on the National stage in 2012 on Lake Banook, in Dartmouth. This venue provided valuable experience for the young club which it used the following year in Montreal, gaining its first points at the National Championships, a fifth-place finish in women’s 4-person canoe. Since then, Cobourg has had numerous individual and crew performances at the Canadian Championships.


In 2014, seven athletes from Cobourg represented Western Ontario at the Ontario Summer games. The year 2016 saw Cobourg have an athlete nominated to the Canmex International Regatta in Women’s single canoe. Five times, other Cobourg athletes have been nominated to the Ontario Regatta teams. In August 2017, the club successfully hosted its first regatta, the Western Ontario U11/U13 divisional championships.

More than 120 athletes completed in one-, two-, and four-person canoes and kayaks, as well as in a war canoe race.  The popularity of the CDBCC summer camp continues to grow.  Starting in 2010, two weeks were offered for residents in Northumberland to attend.  Since then it has grown to eight weeks and over 180 campers each year!  

Some of the club’s competitive National highlights include when Mackenzie Jenkins, Emily Jenkins, Brittany Saunders, & Kate Saman placed 5th at the 2014 Nationals in C4. In 2015, Kate Saman placed 9th in C1, Isaac Clapp placed 4th in K1 6000 m, and Isaac Clapp & Kadan Johnson placed 5th in K2. In 2016, Kate Saman was nominated to the Canmex team in C1.

Zoe Bergeron was chosen to compete in the regional round of RBC Training Ground competition in 2019. The RBC Training Ground is a talent identification and athlete funding program designed to uncover athletes with Olympic potential and provide them with the high-performance sport resources they need to achieve their podium dreams.

Two exceptional para-athletes have led the way for para-canoe in Cobourg and the province, Paige Fawcett and Aiden Cameron. Until they took up paddling kayaks, no other youth para-athletes competed in sprint racings. Coach Christine Proulx obtained the equipment needed to adapt racing kayaks to allow them to successfully compete.

Their courage and determination has led the way for other youth para-athletes to compete in sprint racing throughout Ontario. Paige and Aiden have won 7 burgees in para-canoe and paddle-all for CDBCC.  They have also been presented with numerous Gold Medals in singles and doubles para-canoe at the Provincial Championships.

The local club has done exceptionally well in the Masters division at the Canadian Championships (CanMas). The local masters paddlers first competed in CanMas in 2011 and came home with many medals including a silver in Novice war canoe (Kristine Hanley, Jacqueline Pennington, Michelle Driscoll, Jennifer Skinner, Christine Proulx, Darren Zoldy, Norm Clapp, Patti Aitken, Cox Jeremy Fowlie, and 6 members from other clubs), a silver in Men’s K2 (Jeremy Fowlie and Norm Clapp), and a bronze in Women’s K4 (Kristin Hanley, Jacqueline Pennington-Juranics, Michelle Driscoll, and Jennifer Skinner). Jeremy Fowlie also earned a gold medal as part of Burloak’s war canoe crew. The following year, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Christine Proulx and June Jenkins earned a silver in doubles kayak.

In 2015, Jeremy Fowlie won a bronze in singles C1 and in 2016 Jeremy Fowlie, Mike Fekete, and 2 Richmond Hill kayakers won a silver medal in K4.  Michael Fekete and his wife, Beryl Green, have won numerous medals over the past 5 years for Cobourg in singles, doubles, and fours. Michael Fekete came to Canada in the mid 70’s after escaping from Hungary. He was the first person Jeremy Fowlie contacted when starting Cobourg’s youth program.


He is a distributor of canoes and kayaks from Hungary and sold CDBCC their first set of boats, in 2010, stating, “Pay me when you can, it is more important that kids paddle. I can get paid later.” Mike has also donated over 20 boats in the past 10 years. He was made an honorary member of the CDBCC, which is why he and his wife, Beryl, paddle under CDBCC colours at Nationals. Mike has won 5-6 medals each year in CanMas. He is currently racing in the 70+ age division.

Since 2012, 21 CDBCC athletes have been crowned provincial champions, taking home 57 Gold Medals. CDBCC paddlers have won a whopping 154 Medals at the Provincial Championships - 112 in crew boats and 42 in singles.

Four young CDBCC members experienced further successes after moving on to other clubs. In 2016, Kadan Johnson began training with the Richmond Hill Canoe Club.  He has many provincial awards but Nationally placed 3rd in the men's U17 K1 6000m, in 2016, placed 2nd in the men’s U17 K4 1000 in 2016, and most notably won a National gold medal in the men's U17 K1 6000 in 2017. In 2017, Emma Zoldy also moved to the Richmond Hill Canoe Club. After the 2017 season, Emma and her teammates were distinguished by the Richmond Hill Sports Hall of Fame as Sport Champions for being the best overall women’s kayak team in Ontario.

Throughout the years, Emma has accumulated 27 Ontario Championship medals and has competed at 6 National Championships. At the 2019 Nationals, she finished 5th in the K1 200m and 6th in the K1 1000m events. She also placed 4th in the K2 200m and earned her first National medal in the K4 500 m event with a 2nd place finish. A couple of years ago she was chosen for the Ontario Tour team, travelled with the team and competed in Canada Cup regattas. Emma is currently on the Ontario Development Team.


Twins, Emily and Mackenzie Jenkins, moved to the Mississauga Canoe Club in 2014. At the 2014 Nationals, Emily won the bronze medal in the Sr. women’s 1000m C2 and then went on to win a gold medal by breaking a 113-year-old Canoe Kayak national record, with her teammates, for being the youngest crew in Canadian history to win the Junior Women’s C4 race. Mackenzie Jenkins placed 5th in the U17 women’s K4 race at these same Nationals.

At the 2015 Nationals, Emily repeated her bronze performance in the Senior Women’s 500 m IC4 race, a silver in the Sr. Women’s C2, a bronze in the U17 mixed war canoe, and a bronze in the U19 mixed war canoe. Mackenzie reached the podium for the first time in National competition, bringing home the bronze medal in the U17 war canoe.

Coaching has been instrumental in the success of the program. Dragon Boat coaches have included Jeremy Fowlie (1999-present), Haigh Gledhill (2000 – 2017), and Bruce Bellaire (2016 – 2019).

Sprint Youth coaches have included Jeremy Fowlie (2010-present), Norm Clapp (2011- 2014), Dave William (2011-2014), Isaac Clapp (2015-2017), Kate Saman (2015 – 2018), and Kamryn Davis (2019). Para-canoe coaches have been Chris Proulx (2013 – 2019), Alicia Zoldy (2014 – 2016), and Kate Saman (2015 – 2018). Ontario Summer Games: Western Ontario Team Coaches have included locals Norm Clapp (2014) and Jeremy Fowlie (2014, 2016). Jeremy Fowlie was also named Ontario Development Team coach in 2014 and 2015.


The CDBCC also gives back to the community, offering free sessions to various groups in Northumberland, including Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Youth-In-Policing, High School Youth Programs, and Community Living.  The Cobourg Dragon Boat and Canoe Club has enabled thousands of residents to enjoy various paddling disciplines in the Cobourg Harbour over the past 20 years.  Many people and organizations have made it possible for the CDBCC to thrive in Cobourg - our participants, service clubs, and support from Town Council.

The Cobourg Dragon Boat and Canoe Club has become a very prominent and successful training ground for both recreational and competitive dragon boaters, canoers, and kayakers.

Updated August 2020


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Rowing-Jeremiah Brown

Jeremiah Brown

Jeremiah Brown was born November 25, 1985 in Cobourg. He was the middle child, Julia younger and Jenny older. He and his family spent part of his youth living in Port Hope across the road from the Ganaraska River. In his late teens, in Cobourg, he tried to pull off a prank that landed him in jail for several days. He was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and 1 year of probation.

Jeremiah attended high school in Cobourg where his sport of choice was hockey. Because of the prank he had to change schools and drop hockey. He graduated and attended McMaster University in Hamilton. They didn’t have a varsity hockey team so he decided to learn how to play football. In his sophomore year he put on 40 pounds but only made the service team. In his third year he got to 255 pounds, could bench press 225 eleven times and earned a position on the Marauders Varsity Team as an offensive tackle. A shoulder injury half way through the season shut him down and though he played his final year, the shoulder injury became aggravated and he began looking for other sports opportunities.

In 2004 Jeremiah and his girlfriend Amy had an unexpected pregnancy and Ethan was born in May, 2005. It was a busy time with classes and child care for both Amy and Jeremiah and football for Jeremiah. When Jeremiah started looking for another sport, he recalled seeing an article in his youth about a Canadian world champion in single sculls working hard to win gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. By chance he entered a rowing fundraiser and then followed up with a look-see. He thought he could teach himself how to row! How wrong he was!

He borrowed a single scull for his first rowing venture and headed for Rice Lake. His first mistake was putting on the oar locks backwards causing him to fall into the lake after a mere 10 strokes. Undaunted and determined, he got himself back into the boat and tried again. He would experience many such dunkings into the water but he craved the challenge to excel. He would have to lose that weight but rowing would be easier on his shoulder. The day he saw on TV the Canadian Men's Eight Rowing Team win Gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Jeremiah set himself the “impossible” goal of winning Gold at the 2012 Olympics in London England, just 4 short years away.

Jeremiah and Amy and 3-year-old Ethan moved to British Columbia where he started working for a TD bank in Victoria. Victoria was where the national men’s eight rowing team trained. He met Doug White who agreed to be his rowing coach. He started a learn-to-row program in the Canadian national program and spent some 1700 hours in training. By the fall of 2009 he was able to row 200 metres and was able to represent British Columbia in the Nationals.

In 2010 he earned a silver medal at the national championships in the single sculls. In January 2011 he was named to the national rowing team. He began working with renowned coach Mike Spracklen. Spracklen was a polarizing figure as Jeremiah expressed in his feelings “I felt a lot of rage towards him (yes, RAGE) at various times in the two years leading  up to the Olympics...Mike was the only person around who had coached athletes to Olympic medals...he was my ticket to the podium”.

In further describing those months of grueling training Jeremiah provides insight into what drives an elite athlete despite injury and other obstacles: “There is not a clear answer to why we willingly suffer on a daily basis. Before I began training at this level, I thought it had to be the ego and even vanity that pushed athletes on in the pursuit of an Olympic gold medal. But the ego gets broken down in those first 2 months of training and vanity is overshadowed by fatigue and, at times, despair.

At some primitive level we all have a disposition towards fighting or fleeing. The elite athlete is a fighter. When tested, he or she will feel the same symptoms as their fleeing counterpart; fear, nervousness, tension, anxiety, etc, the difference being that something irrational will compel the elite athlete to fight and overcome these symptoms just because it's in their nature. That's why I suffer. I don't have a choice.  I'm a fighter and I can't turn it off. (

Jeremiah won bronze at the World Championships as part of the men’s eight. 3 weeks before the 2012 Olympics he was named to the men’s eight team. All that hard work paid off for Jeremiah and the dream of standing on the podium at London was realized. After a potentially disastrous preparatory heat, the Canadians fought off the British and Australians in an exciting final, almost catching the Germans, but thrilled to be second and silver!

Following the Olympics Jeremiah had three herniated discs and had ruptured tendons in his fingers. And mentally he had had enough of rowing. Jeremiah counts himself lucky that he was spared the post-Olympic depression that afflicts many other athletes. Part of the way forward was to throw himself into one of his other passions, music. He plays the drums He was named an Honourary Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Music in 2013 for his advocacy for the arts.

In the summer of 2014 Jeremiah and family moved to Peterborough to be closer to his parents in Cobourg and Amy’s business, West Pines Park Resort, north of Bancroft. Several months later Jeremiah was selected by the Canadian Olympic Committee as the national manager of Game Plan, the COC's program to help elite athletes make the transition to the next chapter of their lives. “A lot of athletes find it difficult, I found it difficult coming from the Olympics.

There is a transition that needs to happen and an identity shift that needs to happen, there is an ego check that needs to happen ... it’s a really tough time for Olympic athletes and athletes who identify (with the Olympics). That’s their life. Here I was, I was someone who played different sports, I had my degree, I even had marketable skills in finance that I could still presumably find a job fairly easily compared to my peers and I still found it challenging and to this day it is challenging”.

Jeremiah’s accomplishments include developing the Game Plan Education Network, which saw Canada’s leading universities sign on to provide more flexibility and support for Canada’s national team athletes; the Game Plan Employer Network, a brand new recruiting resource connecting Canada’s top companies with Canada’s top athletes; developing a partnership with Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, which will provide over $11 million in direct scholarship to retired Olympians and Paralympians.

The work of Jeremiah and his team has been featured by major news outlets including the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, CTV, CBC, Radio Canada, and Al Jazeera. Jeremiah has been consulted by the International Olympic Committee for his expertise while continuing to support the development of athlete welfare programs around the world.

After the Olympics Jeremiah also began writing. His plan was to self-publish an e-book for college rowers – part memoir, part how-to. Feedback from rowers he sent a draft to was they wanted to hear more about his story and the motivations that drove him. In total it took Jeremiah 5 years to write the book. In early 2018 The 4 Year Olympian, was published by Dundurn Press. It spent five weeks as the #1 bestselling sport memoir in Canada, and has achieved a cult-like following in Canada and the USA. The book has transcended the sport memoir genre with its raw honesty and appeal to anyone chasing a big dream.

Following the release of his bestselling book Jeremiah recreated his amazing journey into an emotionally captivating experience. Consistently ranked as one of the top speakers on transformation, resilience, teamwork, and leadership, Jeremiah brings an engaging warmth and humour while delivering powerful, inspiring keynotes. Through his talks, Jeremiah has inspired thousands of people around the world.

Jeremiah Brown spent his life harnessing the power of resilience to adapt to new environments and overcome setbacks.

Updated August 2020


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