Karl-Olivier Bone | Chess game on the waters of Tokyo

  Karl-Olivier Bone |  Chess game on the waters of Tokyo

In 2008, Quebecer Karl-Olivier Bon participated in his first Olympic Games in sailing. Thirteen years later, at the age of 40 and going through a long depression, he is back on his sailboat and sails the waters of Tokyo.

Katherine Harvey-Pinard

Katherine Harvey-Pinard

While many Quebec parents register their children for hockey or soccer, Carl-Olivier Bonne has decided to register them for sailing at Montreal’s Beaconsfield Yacht Club.

“At first, I didn’t like it very much, says the main person concerned. I wanted to be fair to my school friends, but my parents wouldn’t let me.”

Everyone called Oliver when he was young, at age 14, when he started competing, fell in love with the sport, he recalls. He liked the combination of physical effort and the mental effort of “playing chess on the water against other boats”.

Over the years, young Oliver proved himself in the sport until he participated in his first Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. There he was 29. finished inI and last place in the 470 men’s event.

“As an athlete, it was not a great experience, but as a person, it was incredible,” he says.

Photo provided by Sail Canada

Karl-Olivier Bone

Upon his return to Quebec, he learns that he is suffering from depression.

“It was a problem I had for a long time,” he says. The saucepan overflowed. It was after the Olympics that it really hit the nail on the head. ”

Difficulty getting up, eating, staying in the morning… Bone decided to retire from sailing in 2011, when the depression was at its worst.

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“There’s no happiness,” he explains. These are dark thoughts. It’s hard to be with friends, to work, to do all that…”

With the help of his parents, friends, family therapist, and a psychologist, the Beaconsfield native managed to get over it. In 2017, he was getting better, he says. Today, the athlete agrees to openly talk about this period of his life. Helping people affected by mental health problems.

“It’s still a taboo subject,” he laments. Also because of Bell Day… Everyone says: “Come on talk to me if you have a problem, I’ll help you!” The next day, there is no more discussion. We would never do this with other diseases.

“We have to talk about it as well because we don’t have any government support. If we break a hand, we get help. We are going to see the doctor, we are recovering. But if the mind is broken, it’s up to you to get help. It is you who are mad, this is your problem. “


Sailing will also play a role in Oliver Bone’s healing. During his depression, he began coaching. In fact, it was not so much the game as the people he knew helped him.

“There was a passion for life,” he says. It wasn’t necessarily a game, but it was watching people get obsessed with their work. ”

For years, Bone worked with a variety of employees, including Jacob and Graeme Saunders. He coached the two without supporting them until the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Then, quietly, the taste of competition returned to him.

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In the summer of 2019, he offered his former student Jacob Saunders to team up with him. Together, they will try to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics – barely a year before they were supposed to be held!

I thought to myself: why not give it a try? The worst is that we spent a little money, we had fun, we saw old friends and we competed at a high level. This is not a bad result. BEST: We’re going to the Olympics.

oliver bone

Despite all odds, the pair managed to qualify for the World Cup in January 2020 in Miami thanks to a decent performance. At the age of 40, Oliver Bone would once again represent Canada at the Olympic Games. When we say age doesn’t matter!

“I’m excited! Says the man who now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


Oliver Bone and Jacob Saunders qualified for the Olympics just six months before the event, which was scheduled to take place in July 2020.

Then came the pandemic. So he had more time than expected to prepare, but with prevention and public health measures in place, he will not have an easy time. Due to sanitary regulations, Bone had to move from Halifax to Chester to be able to train with his partner.

“I still have my apartment in Halifax,” Quebeker explains. Jacob’s parents had a small apartment in the basement. My dog ​​and I have moved. We have come here for training. ”

Obviously both the players would like to do well in the Japanese capital, but their goal is above all to have fun. Especially since they will not have that much time to prepare their opponents.

In Tokyo, as in Miami, Oliver Bone and Jacob Saunders will use a boat loaned to them by the American duo Stu McNay and David Hughes.

“It’s really thanks to them that we can do all this,” he says. I could not buy the boat and equipment. ”

Nor play chess on the waters of Tokyo.


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