With about 350 metres to go in the men’s C-1 1000-metre final on Penrith Lakes, Steve Giles heard the unmistakable and familiar sound he’s heard for 20 years; the foghorn from the Senobe Canoe Club. It came out of the grandstands at the International Regatta Centre and made its way to Giles’ ears and heart just as it had on Lake Banook in Dartmouth since he was eight years old.
He had been running fifth at the 500-metre mark and moved up to forth at 750 metres, but the sound of the horn, which had been smuggled through Olympic security and into the stands by his cheering section signalled it was time for a charge.
Keyed by the sound of the Senobe foghorn, Giles was digging on adrenalin down the stretch, holding off a competitor from France. Giles had finished out of the medals in two previous Olympics and did not want to feel the disappointment of coming up empty again.
“I heard the horn and I knew it was time to go.” Said Giles who surged ahead to capture the bronze medal. “The last 100 metres, I thought my arms were going to fall off. I thought I was going to fall out of the boat. Then I looked over and saw I was third. Wow.”
Racing at an Olympic regatta is stressful and takes it toll mentally and physically on the athlete. "This is the first Olympics where I didn't have to throw up before my race." Giles took three days rest at the Sydney Olympics and felt ready and confident for his final race.
The medal was summed by Giles in this way. “It’s a lifetime. It’s dedication. It’s what I do with my life.”