The road to Sydney was almost as wild for Ottawa's Tyler Lawlor as the water he cuts through in every event.
Lawlor, a whitewater paddler who competes in slalom C-2 (canoe doubles) with partner Benoit Gauthier of Mont-Rolland, Que., nearly had his Olympic dream washed out when the International Canoe Federation said it had made a mistake in allotting Canada a spot in the C-2 event in Sydney.
The ICF had originally planned for just 10 countries to qualify for the Games, but then agreed it would increase the number. Somewhere along the way, the ICF said it made a mistake and the Canadians ran the risk of being left out.
Lawlor and Gauthier were dumbfounded when they saw their names were omitted when the Canadian Olympic Association released its team list for Sydney in August.
After an excruciatingly long 48-hour wait, the two were informed their entry into the Games had become official.
Finally, some peace of mind.
"It was total hell," said Lawlor, 27, about waiting for an official decision. "I kept thinking it wasn't going to be a problem, but it was awful to have to think of not going."
The two, who had only just paired up in January, worked extremely hard to qualify for Sydney and couldn't bring themselves to think it had all been for naught.
Lawlor joined forces with Gauthier after he and partner Tim Stuempel went their separate ways.
Stuempel and Lawlor agreed they had fallen short of reaching their goals and that a separation might be best for both of them.
Lawlor worked out alone for a period of time, but when the opportunity to work with Gauthier came up, he jumped at it.
Francois Letourneau announced his retirement for personal reasons, leaving Gauthier without a partner. Lawlor wasted little time getting on the phone to Gauthier.
Gauthier, 33, had already qualified for the Olympics with Letourneau, but needed to do so again with Lawlor.
The two took care of business by finishing 14th at the season-opening World Cup race on the Olympic course in Sydney.
After all the hard work to get to Sydney, the pair is looking forward to calmer waters.
-- LISA BURKE
-- Ottawa Sun
Men's C-2 doubles: Benoit Gauthier, Lac-Alouette, Que., and Tyler Lawlor, Ottawa, finished ninth in qualifying, advanced to final.
Canadians Gauthier & Lawlor hitch a ride
Gauthier & Lawlor go through a gate
Gauthier and Lawlor hit a wave
2000 Games Canoe & Kayak Coverage