Former Olympian used ADHD to his advantage

By Khalid Magram, QMI Agency

Monday, February 22, 2010

With the spotlight on Canadian Olympians on the podium, one former gold medallist is using the attention to highlight the upside of a stigmatized disorder – ADHD.

“I found that the disorder isn’t a negative infliction but it gives positive energy as well,” said Adam Kreek, who reached his pinnacle in men’s eight rowing at the Beijing Games in 2008.

Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder when he was six, he is only now speaking out about the condition for the first time.

Kreek said he learned to channel his energy through rowing when he was teenager.

“Anyone with ADHD can train their mind to control the incredible energy people with ADHD have,” said Kreek, who describes himself as having been a high-energy child who had trouble concentrating. “I found rowing to be an outlet to control my ADHD.”

He also credits proper diet, exercise and family support to be the key in controlling the disorder.

For Kreek, who often describes himself as a ‘Positive Realist,’ the ADHD diagnosis has not meant hopelessness.

About 8 to 10% of male and 3 to 4% of female adolescents have ADHD in Canada. A child with the condition may exhibit symptoms such as fidgeting or squirming, running or climbing when they shouldn’t, or they may have difficulty waiting for their turns.

The condition “is often stigmatized and you are relegated to a lesser person,” said Kreek, who believes the time is right for him to speak out about his ADHD infliction so he can help others and dismiss many myths regarding the disorder.

In 2004, Kreek moved to Stanford University to complete a degree in geotechnical engineering and hydrology. He later co-founded GoGreen Biofuels Inc., which converts waste vegetable oil into biofuel.

He enjoys sharing his time and passion for life with others by speaking publicly and inspiring people of all ages. He speaks at schools and with youth across Canada about the connection and significance of taking care of human and environmental health.

“The secret of life is giving,” he said. “I also get pretty satisfying feedback from the kids and other.”

Kreek is also glad that there are many resources available out there for people who need support for their loved ones. One resource he is particularly fond of is the website

Not content to row into the sunset, Kreek’s next challenge will be to row across the Atlantic Ocean in 2011 to advocate self-awareness and raise funds for the group Right To Play, for which he is an athlete ambassador.

“It will be a 24 hours a day journey starting off the coast of Canary Island,” Kreek said. “We still are looking for a sponsor for the undertaking to help a good cause.”

Kreek also hopes to turn the journey into a documentary or a reality TV event.

The Toronto Sun