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For Devin McEwan (Salisbury, CT), it was never about trying to become the greatest canoeist of all time, or even winning an Olympic gold medal.

Instead it was always about pursuing the sport he loved, sinking his teeth into a job that allowed him to connect with his favorite pastime everyday. That passion was instilled into Devin by his father at a young age, Olympic bronze medalist in the canoe slalom, Jamie McEwan.

Jamie taught Devin everything about the sport that he knew, and as the younger McEwan grew up, the duo decided to pair up on the international circuit, even going to an Olympic Trials. However, with a partner far out of his prime, it was clear that they weren’t going to make the Olympics, or ever medal at a World Cup event.  

After competing with his father for years, Devin had to make a decision of whether or not he was going to continue his career after Jamie finally retired. After some soul searching, he decided to reinvest in his lifelong job, partnering with childhood friend Casey Eichfeld in the double’s slalom.

The endgame again wasn’t the Olympics for McEwan like it was for Eichfeld, who had made the Games in singles in Beijing and London. Instead, it was an opportunity to participate in the sport that he loved more than anything else, and doing it against the best other racers in the world.

That pursuit inevitably led the duo to the Olympics, whether Devin admitted he cared or not. It was only a few short weeks before the Games that their boat was officially confirmed to be racing.

In Rio, McEwan and Eichfeld weren’t expected to contend for a medal, with the greatest of optimists figuring they would make it into the final at best. After a solid collection of preliminary runs got their boat into the final, they stumbled in an ambitious approach, finishing in a decent albeit unspectacular tenth place.

At this time, Devin knows that it’s unlikely that he makes a bid for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Doubles slalom is being eliminated off the slate in 2020, effectively shutting down any legitimate chances he had of making it back. While the Olympics were never an ultimate goal that he set for himself, they are really off the radar for the elder statesman of the United States Canoe Team.

With that change, McEwan has decided to reinsert himself into the single’s competition, splitting with Eichfeld. The goal now is to continue to compete, with the ultimate hope of being selected to join the National Team for the upcoming season. He also isn’t ruling out finding a new partner to compete in doubles for the world championships, or even to find a female partner, to participate in the new mixed doubles event.

While he may never reach the pinnacle of the sport ever again, you can be sure that Devin McEwan will never be too far away from a river, a paddle, and a canoe.

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Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
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