Vernon skate-skier headed to 2018 Winter Games

Kequyen Lam is headed for Olympic glory

Kequyen Lam heads to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in February. (Courtesy of Raj/www.theprimaldesire.com)

By all accounts,Winter Olympics-bound Kequyen Lam defies convention.

Born in Macau in 1979 to parents who had fled war-torn North Vietnam, and raised in Abbotsford, Lam admits he was a gifted athlete, but opted to attend UBC in Vancouver and study kinesiology and pharmacology.

Over the past 20 years, the 38-year-old pharmacist has competed at some of the highest levels in snowboard cross and cross-country skiing; written two books; manufactured an “about-to-be-released” line of moustache wax; owned, sold and written about his beloved tiny house; and next month, he’ll buckle up his ski boots and head to the Winter Games in PyeongChang.

Lam, who is currently based in Vernon, will compete as the sole 15-kilometre cross-country skate skier representing Portugal.

WATCH

Olympic athlete, Kequyen Lam reveals how it felt to learn that he had qualified to compete in the 2018 Winter Games.

His coach Glenn Bond made the official announcement Thursday morning at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre where Lam has been training.

“Kequyen’s story to the Games is incredible,” said Bond.

“He’s has been racing around the world the last two years and training hard to qualify (for the Olympics), and now it’s 17 days away. Wow, time flies.”

Naturally, Lam is thrilled at the prospect of taking his talent to the international stage.

And while he knows the pressure is on, he feels it’s important to focus on how he got there.

“I was born to compete. Training and competing feeds my soul.” – Kequyen Lam

“In 1978 my parents risked it all for our family’s safety,” Lam explained.

“It was a month-long voyage in a rickety, over-capacity sea vessel — my dad, my mom and my brother — and every second they were afraid. That boat could have capsized at any moment.”

Lam said his family was welcomed to Macau, which was a Portuguese territory until 1999, where they lived in a refugee camp. After Lam was born, his family immigrated to Canada and settled in Abbotsford.

He says sports were always a big part of his life, but he didn’t pursue a career as an athlete until after he graduated from university and worked in his field.

In 2008, he decided to “seriously” pursue snowboard cross, and came close to qualifying for the 2014 Winter Games. But a serious injury he sustained at a training camp in Austria prevented him from getting to Sochi.

“It’s a dangerous sport — I mean, you’re going over 60-foot jumps at 70 kilometres an hour. Any small mistake can land you in the hospital. I was living in a state of fear (at the time),” he recalled.

On the last day of training camp, Lam mistimed a feature and ended up crashing.

“I blew out my shoulder. I was devastated, but at the same time it was huge relief because that meant I didn’t have to go up and risk my life again.”

Lam began his recovery, but soon after the “cross-country skiing seed” that had been planted in his head a few years earlier by another athlete “began to take root.

“I had been determined to get to Sochi doing snowboard cross, but after I was injured I knew that wouldn’t happen, and I accepted that it was meant to be that way —that I wasn’t meant to go, but at the same time, I felt like something was missing. I was born to compete. Training and competing feeds my soul. “

He began training and pursued his other passions — he built a tiny home in Squamish, which he recently sold. And wrote about the experience in his book, Tiny Home Haikus.

His other book, Into the Mind of an Olympic Athlete, which has been described as “an inside look into the experience of being at the starting line of an Olympic event,” will be available online soon.

Lam gives a tour of his passion project, a tiny house he built in Squamish.

Lam, who says he has also become somewhat of a facial hair enthusiast, recently began manufacturing his own brand of mustache wax called Lamstache. He says it’s more of a side project “for fun” than a serious business venture, but notes that it will be available on the market this year.

For the time being, Lam says all other projects are on temporary hold while he heads off to the Winter Olympics —an experience he says he still can’t believe he will finally get.

He credits his parents for much of his success and says he hopes his story will inspire children with parents who are new to Canada, to follow their own dreams, no matter how big.

“I’m the result of what my parents lived through, and the risks that they took. I’m an immigrant, my parents are refugees and I couldn’t be more proud of that because from that it shows that hard work and dreams that you dream and sacrifice is all worth it in the end.”

The 2018 Winter Games take place in PyeongChang, South Korea, Feb. 9 to 25.

Erin Christie

Morning Star Staff

Just Posted

Nearby wildfire closes Idaho Peak

The popular hiking spot is off limits to the public

Granite Pointe’s GM honoured among world’s top golf teachers

David Belling has been included on a top-100 list

VIDEO: Nelson Leafs prepare for new season with training camp

Forty-seven players hit the ice last weekend

Former mayor to advise would-be West Kootenay politicians

Christina Benty will lead a candidate workshop on Aug. 27 in Castlegar

Child, 4, attacked by cougar near Fernie

The BC Conservation Officer Service said it happened while the family was fishing

VIDEO: Monday Roundup: Aug. 13, 2018

The Nelson Star’s weekly news roundup

Court hearing on Humboldt Broncos fundraising to test Saskatchewan law

The money has yet to be distributed because Saskatchewan has legislation known as the Informal Public Appeals Act

Fredericton police release scene of shooting spree, but ‘damage’ remains

Residents of a Fredericton apartment complex may not be able to return home just yet

Bus crash in Ecuador kills 23 people, injures 14

The bus hit another vehicle in an area known as dead man’s curve on Tuesday

Trump lashes out at Omarosa, calls her ‘that dog’

Manigault Newman continues promoting her White House tell-all and releasing secret audio recordings

UPDATE: Bridge collapses in Genoa, Italy killing at least 20

Five more people are injured and in serious condition

Man plows truck into Houses of Parliament in London

UK police treat Parliament crash as terrorism, man arrested

Child dies in boating incident in Okanagan

A North Vancouver family was boating on Kalamalka Lake in Vernon when the incident occured

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Province calls for federal aid

More fires have burned in B.C. already this year than did in all of 2017

Most Read