Community

Hayden inspires youth to get involved

Two-year-old Malaina, Elijah, 7, and Luke, 4, take a close look at the bronze swimming medal Mission Olympian Brent Hayden won in the 2012 Summer Olympics. - Carol Aun
Two-year-old Malaina, Elijah, 7, and Luke, 4, take a close look at the bronze swimming medal Mission Olympian Brent Hayden won in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
— image credit: Carol Aun

Just get out and play.

That's the message from Mission Olympian Brent Hayden at the annual Back to Health … For Good Fair on Saturday at the Leisure Centre.

Hayden shared his experiences growing up and how important it was to try different sports. With his bronze medal from the 2012 Summer Olympics in hand, he told the audience he wasn't always the best, and in fact, he didn't show much promise in any activity he started in, including swimming.

The international swimming star recalled one of his first meets in Langley where he was more interested in the fish painted on the bottom of the pool than he was in finishing the race.

But it was the access to many different sports that has made him the person he is today. Hayden credits his karate instructor, Tom McDonagh, for turning him around.

"He taught me that if you want to be good at anything, you have to do it with heart," said Hayden, who had to pause for a moment as he spoke about the late sensei.

"Sure he taught me how to throw wicked punches, but he also taught be to be a man."

Hayden said he learns more about himself when he fails than when he wins, but despite the outcome, he makes many friends along the way.

Regardless of where he is, Mission is where his heart is.

"Mission will always be my home," said Hayden, who now lives in Vancouver with his wife.

He encouraged kids, adults and families to hit the trails in the countryside, and visit local parks to meet other families and embrace what community is all about.

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