Prairie grower gives back to sport

Funding Canadian Olympians Former Pan Am Games gold medallist sponsored four Olympic athletes in London 

Bob Mastin’s decision to sponsor four Olympic athletes was pure serendipity.

The registered seed grower from Sundre, Alta., was in Calgary in June to see his doctor for a back examination and found Olympic tryouts happening at nearby Foothills park.

“I thought I am off that damned farm and I’ve got a couple hours. I am going to take it,” he said.

A former martial arts competitor who won gold for taekwondo in the 1996 Pan Am Games in Los Angeles, he avidly follows world competitions. He injured his back at that competition.

He paid his own expenses to Los Angeles, but was shocked to learn Canadian athletes in 2012 receive limited financial assistance.

Athletes receive $28,000 from the federal government, but that does not cover the cost of living, training and travelling to competitions.

Mastin heard stories from athletes about maxed out credit cards and families being financially stretched as they tried to cover plane fares, hotels and other expenses.

“I was talking with Olympians where $600 could make the difference between last or first,” he said.

While visiting with athletes that day, Mastin met Connie DeBoer, who runs a business matching corporate sponsors with athletes called Action Talent Sport Management. There were four Olympics bound athletes without sponsorship.

He contributed $5,000 for windsurfer Nikola Girke and rowers Scott Frandsen, David Calder and Derek O’Farrell.

“Those athletes’ lives are far more tenuous than any farmer,” Mastin said. “They are there to win gold and nobody was sponsoring them.”

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