Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Olympics... so much more than a sporting event

"Parler vous Olympics???" - quoted from one of my all time favourite movies "The Cutting Edge" when [spoiler alert!] Kate and Doug, who are pair figure skaters, find out they made the Olympic team. Doug is over the moon excited and jumping for joy while Kate stands there stunned in disbelief that after everything they have been through they actually made it!

I LOVE the Olympics! They are so much more than a sporting event to me - I love to watch the athletes overcome by emotion as their years of training come down to one moment where they have the opportunity to carefully and precisely execute their craft while representing their country. I cannot even imagine trying to contain myself, let alone doing something well enough to win. These athletes represent everything one can achieve with hard work, determination and an ultimate form of patriotism. 

OlympicsMy athletic "career" was nothing near an Olympic experience, but the beginnings were likely the same as some of the athletes that made it all that way. I was put in sports from a young age, but being the cautious and careful type I didn't really excel (I am being nice... I was pretty bad) at any of the sports I had tried. Then I went to middle school where there were new sports that I had never tried before. I wanted to try out for the volleyball team, but had a pretty good feeling that I wouldn't actually make the team. So even though it looked like fun and something I would love to learn I decided not to try out. After-all, I was at a new school, with all new kids, I didn't need to be embarrassed the first week.

Then came along Liz. Liz was one of the volleyball coaches and happened to be my next door neighbour at the time. She asked me why I wasn't going to try out - I explained why and she convinced me that if I gave up on something because I thought I was going to fail before even trying I was going to miss out on almost everything in life. Long story short - I tried out, I made the team, and I am forever grateful to Liz.

I played volleyball until the end of high school, was MVP several years and won the "Coaches award" (being the most coachable player and leading the team) several times as well. I don't think my coaches will ever really realize how much these awards meant to me and how shocked I was to receive them each time. Even though I knew I was improving I never saw myself as one of the best players; I always saw myself as the worst player on the team that was given the opportunity to play a lot. I know, it makes no sense, but that is what I thought. To A. Hayes, D. McKay & A. Mann - you have no idea the impact you have had on my life and how sport has helped me to gain confidence to try new things I think I might not be very good at and to attack life head on. Now, as a mom, I cannot wait for my little dude to start playing sports and I can only hope that he has coaches along the way that can have such a positive impact on him. 

I saw Clara Hughes (one of my favourite athletes, Canadians and people) speak in Moncton, New Brunswick a few years ago. She described in front of a large crowd how she felt when she was watching to 1988 Calgary Olympics and saw Gaetan Boucher skating in his speed skating race. She said that she watched him in awe and thought that his strides were so beautiful. From that moment she wanted to "skate beautifully". As Clara described this I had goose bumps and almost started to cry - I was so happy for her and proud that she ended up a champion speed skater by wanting to skate beautifully. Not by wanting to win the olympics, not by being the fastest skater in the world, but by simply skating beautifully. I am now reading Clara's book "Open Heart, Open Mind" where she also talks about this experience as well as her life and journey. I am really enjoying the book... and if you know me, I don't read books very often, so for me to enjoy it, it has to be good! 

Finally, Mandy Bujold will be competing for Canada in Rio. And why is this athlete special in particular? Well, Mandy might not remember me, but her grandfather and my grandmother married each other when we were both young (in fact Mandy may not have been born yet). I am so proud to have a "family" member competing for Canada on sports'
largest stage. To Mandy and all of the Canadian athletes in Rio: I wish you the very best experience!

It all comes down to this - make your moment count. Go CANADA Go!

My shoes for that: Mr. CAT heels purchased during my visit to Rio in 2010

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