Mathieu Gentes smoothed out a path to the World Track and Field Championships mostly by applying liberal portions of elbow grease, but growing up in sports-mad city also helped him kick-start his career in athletics.
Gentes, a 28-year-old Sault native now residing in Ottawa, will accompany Canada’s top track and field athletes to the International Association of Athletics Federations meet in Osaka, Japan later this month.
Though Gentes has worked with Athletics Canada as its marketing and communications manager for two years, this will be his first trip to the international meet.
“When I was living at home, we always had the choice to play sports in the summer and the winter growing up,” Gentes said. “I decided a long time ago I wanted to make a career in sports.”
Gentes, the son of Sir James Dunn hockey coach Remi Gentes and wife Carole, spent four years at Notre Dame des Grands Lacs before switching to SJD for a fifth year to play hockey for the Eagles.
“That was a big advantage to me for working in sports, growing up in a family that was bilingual,” Gentes said. “Almost all the jobs require that now, so it’s a huge benefit.”
So was his internship in 2001 with Ascent Entertainment, the group owning both the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets.
“Now I’m where I want to stay for a long time,” Gentes said. “There are a lot of growth opportunities in track and field. The Summer Olympics, basically, are the focal point.
“But in Canada it’s not where it is in Europe, where they put 60,000 people in the stadium.”
He expects track and field to feel pretty big in Osaka. Representatives of some 190 countries are due to gather at the 50,000-seat Nagai Stadium for the meet, which runs on Aug. 25 to Sept. 2.
The media contact for official Canadian broadcaster, CBC, leaves for Japan Aug. 18 and returns on Sept. 3.
“I’ll have a couple days before the event to get my bearings and see a bit of Osaka,” he said.
Then he’ll get down to the business of setting up interviews, working on websites, press releases and crisis communications, “which unfortunately happens a little too often in this business.”
And as the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing approach, business will only pick up.