Melanie Kok, 24, earned a bronze medal in rowing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Kok, a member of Trinity Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, is the first Canadian to medal in lightweight women’s double scull.
Kok started rowing in high school when a friend asked if she’d like to join the team. “I fell in love with the sport,” she said. Her mother, Donna Kok, said Melanie was a natural. “Her coaches said she was easy to teach,” she said.
Kok continued to row at the University of Virginia and with the Canadian national team, winning bronze and gold medals in world competitions.
While she considered going to the Olympics an honor and a great experience, Kok did not find it that different from other competitions. The highlight was staying in the Olympic Village. “Everywhere you look you see the best athletes in the world,” she said.
Donna, who accompanied her daughter to Beijing, said it was amazing to be there to watch her daughter compete. “What a God-given talent she has, and she used it the best way she could,” she said.