First Name: Richard
Last Name: Dalton
Sport: Paddling
Inductee Type: Athlete
Year Inducted: 2021
Home Town: Halifax
County: Halifax

After moving to Halifax from Ireland when he was five years old, Richard Dalton joined a local aquatic club looking to meet other kids in the community, and what he found was the beginning of an extraordinary paddling career.
Dalton enjoyed watching the older kids paddle and observing how they trained. And from a young age he knew what the highest level of achievement would be.
“Paddling is all about the Olympics,” he says.
However, the road to the Olympics had a few bumps starting out. Dalton started training for C-2 (two-man canoe) events with paddling partner and fellow Hall of Famer Mike Scarola when he was just a young teen, and the magic wasn’t immediate.
“Paddling C-2 is really unique because there are certain times it seems to work and certain times it really doesn’t,” says Dalton.
“The first few times were awful,” says Scarola, explaining that both he and Dalton didn’t feel like their partnership worked during their first attempts on the water, and learning to paddle in sync took a lot of careful analysis and adjustments.
Dalton feels like it took the pair about a year to find their rhythm, but then their strength as a team really started to shine. And their medal count started to rise. By the time they began racing internationally in 2000, Dalton felt like he and Scarola had really hit their stride.
“Mike knew how to steer a boat, and Richard was the power in the front of the boat,” says inductee and Dalton’s former sport psychology coach Frank Garner, adding that, for four years, Dalton and Scarola were as good as any C-2 team in the world.
After claiming a World Championship bronze; a bronze, four silvers, and five golds on the World Cup Circuit; and a large collection of national medals (and all of this in just C-2 events prior to 2004), Dalton achieved his goal of making it to the Olympics.
At the 2004 Games in Athens, he competed both individually in the C-1 500m event, and with Scarola in the C-2 1000m race, placing an impressive 6th in both. Dalton was the only athlete to make finals in both C-1 and C-2 events at those Olympics.
“What made Richard special is when he put his mind to something, he just gave his all,” says Hall of Famer and fellow paddling Olympian Karen Furneaux. “He really dug in, tried to really decipher all the details and get as good as he could be in one area specifically. So whether it be stroke mechanics, boat glide, compatibility with teammate— whoever his teammate was at the time— he was really good at kind of drilling down into those details, and then bringing it up to the performance.”
Scarola offers a similar explanation for Dalton’s success:
“His dedication to the sport was incredible; the focus on small details, the willingness to commit to goals and suffer through a lot of what you had to suffer through in a sport like canoe-kayak, was second to none.”
Dalton approached paddling with the aim of maximizing his strength and endurance no matter what distance he was racing.
“You have to understand the concept of pacing,” he says, “Which is simple to say but harder to do.”
Dalton certainly made the concept look easy, though, earning medals in every distance from sprinting to marathons.
“There are very, very few people who have done what Richard has done in the sport,” says Scarola. “He has won world championship medals in basically every distance— marathon, 1000m, 500m, and 200m— and in every boat— C-1, C-2, and C-4— which is extremely rare in our sport. His ability and versatility are second to none.”
Making the podium in every distance has meant Dalton has been at the front of the pack in races that lasted 40 seconds and races that spanned two hours, notably bringing home silver in the Senior World Canoe Marathon Championship in 2000, again paddling with Scarola (the two are pictured above).
Despite the often grueling nature of training and competition, Dalton is very grateful to have had a career that allowed him to pursue his dreams and form lasting friendships.
“The teamwork was huge,” he says. “All the support from family, friends, coaches, the business community, sport community—all those supporters along the way combined to give me the opportunity.”
Just as Dalton watched the older paddlers at the club when he was a kid, today’s generation of young paddlers can now look back at Dalton’s race footage to learn how one of the best in the sport achieved greatness.
“I think he’s a great inspiration for kids,” says Furneaux, citing Dalton’s work ethic, mental tenacity, and wide-ranging achievements.
Dalton recommends that young athletes start with finding what they enjoy, then learn as much as they can and remain patient:
“If you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re always going to be able to put more into it and put in more effort. And if you can’t stop coming up with ways to get better, you’re on the right track.”
—Excellent advice from an athlete whose constant improvement kept him on track from the aquatic club, to the Olympic finish line, to the Hall of Fame.

[Article by Katie Tanner]

  • Olympian, 2004
  • 3 bronze Senior World Championship medals
  • Silver medal in the Senior World Canoe Marathon Championship, 2000
  • 24 gold National Senior Men’s Championship medals
  • 9 World Cup circuit first-place finishes
  • Pan-American gold-medallist, 2011
  • 9 Senior World Championship appearances