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Montreal's Max Van Haaster hopes for medal in third Olympic Games in Paris

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Growing up, Maximilien Van Haaster was captivated by the fantasy world of knights and castles, and that led him to start fencing.

Now at 31, the Montreal fencer says he’s living his dream of representing Team Canada at the Olympics. 

"I'm excited. Even just qualifying for one Olympics is something so special, so being able to do it for a third time, it's amazing,” he said. 

Though it's not his first time competing in the Olympics, it’s his first as a father. 

"One of the things that's very special for me, it's my family's going to be there," he said. "I have a daughter that's almost two, so she's going to be there."

Maxime Brinck-Croteau, Joseph Polossifakis, Eleanor Harvey, and Maximilien Van Haaster, left to right, are presented as members of the Canadian fencing team for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics Tuesday, May 24, 2016 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson, The Canadian Press)

Van Haaster said balancing parenthood and training is challenging but worth it.

"I get to be a dad and I get to fence, which I like doing as well," he said. "It's just a question of trying to find the time to do everything. Sometimes it's harder. Obviously, my daughter is my priority, so sometimes I get to train a bit less."

Van Haaster has yet to get his first Olympic medal, so he’s got his eye on the prize for Paris 2024.

"The medal is what every athlete wants to come back home with," he said. "I mean, it's again, it's very special."

During these games, he’ll also be thinking of his longtime coach Henri Sassine, who died this past year.

“He passed away this year while I was away in competition," said the fencer. "And then for his funeral, I was also away. The good thing was that it was in Egypt. He's Egyptian, he was born in Egypt, and that was a competition where we officially qualified as a team. I think he would have been very proud."

Van Haaster is also looking ahead to what’s next after these games.

"One thing that's for sure, after these games, I want to give back to the sporting community, to help the younger athletes, the up and comers trying to reach their dreams as well and hopefully make it all the way to the Olympics," he said. 

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