All in a (Olympic) Day

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There are no easy ways to get to Sochi, so I was pretty pleased that my route was Pearson-Istanbul-Sochi; even with a 9 hour lay over I thought I’d scored. The Star Alliance lounge in Istanbul is one of the nicest I’ve been to and I knew it had a movie room and a huge wall with a bank of 9 TV’s. If I was going to be in transit during the Olympics – and particularly the final of Team Figure skating – I would be able to watch all the action all day.

You see, while I love being AT the Games, it’s very hard to know all the results and stories while you are there. I miss watching the profiles, hearing the post competition interviews, and the highlight montages that are always done so well. I left after the opening ceremonies and had gotten really used to watching it all.

I was pretty shocked to find that Turkish Airlines wouldn’t turn any of their TV’s to the Olympics. But if the best rule for a great Olympic performance is “have a plan, but don’t expect anything to go according to plan” then this was just another opportunity to put the rule to action. I called home and Deanah was able to put her computer on a stool, on an ottoman in front of our TV and Adam Parfitt (I was travelling with him to Sochi) and I streamed the CBC Olympic coverage via FaceTime for what seemed like hours. It was a pretty great way to start the trip, when some of the athletes that I love to chat with won a silver medal.

We landed in Sochi at 5am, and we’re at our hotel at 7am. Showered, had breakfast and walking by 10
10:30am – walk to Olympic park, validate spectator pass – This is one of many unique extra layers of Russian bureaucracy / security
11:30 – get to Canada Olympic House- An incredible resource for friends and family of the Canadian Olympic team. It is a meeting/resting/eating/celebrating space right in the heart of Olympic Park. It’s also the only place we can see the CBC coverage.
12:00 meet up with moms and dads of so many of the athletes I work with – they are all so proud!!
Meet up with our women’s snowboard cross. I’ve known Maelle and Dominque since 2006 in Turino- they have always been strong but they have been so dominant in the last few seasons. Even with her wrist in a cast Maelle is set to go with her trademark big smile and Dom – well, she feels so prepared and so ready – I could feel her energy radiating from her. That will be a great event to watch and I’m stoked that I have tickets.

2:00 watch men’s short track 1500m competition, where Charles Hamelin was inspiring as he controlled his races and took the gold in such a controlled fashion – (it’s rare to watch short track and get a sense that anyone has control!!). Awesome to watch with a group spirited Canadians.

3:00 – take a train to Khosta, where the Canadian team has a Performance Centre (an off site location of accommodation, offices and training and technical facilities)

4:00 – take a train to Rosa Khutor, have 7pm dinner at McDonalds (I never eat the stuff unless I’m at the Olympics! which always seems kind of backwards!)

9pm – watch the men’s moguls competition! How incredible was that! The Russians were excited because they had a guy in the top 5… But at one point it looked like the other 4 would be Canadians! Just incredible to watch Alex and Mikael take the gold and silver. Its such a different emotional journey to win again… I really appreciated the work and pressure that Alex was under. Also pretty cool to watch it with Adam vanKoeverden. He’s getting pretty inspired here to win again in Rio!

12am train back to the Coast
2am bed. What a packed first day.

Grains of Rice and Jelly Beans

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white-riceOften when I’m speaking to groups about goal achieving I talk about preparation. I like to think that the process of preparation is like filling a cup with grains of rice. For time you spend focusing on work/training/school/relationships you get to put a grain of rice in the cup. The cup represents your goal, and the grains of rice are all the steps that you need to take to achieve it. Every time you are open to new ideas, change, challenge and co-operation you get to put another grain of rice in the cup.

There is a reason that starting is the hardest part of almost any task/goal. In the beginning  we have an obviously empty cup and the first grains of rice that we intend to put in look hopeless small. Goals don’t have to be huge; they can be small cups – or large buckets, even the size of your rice grains will differ – some seem minute and others massive. But there is tremendous value to each grain; added together- all your work adds up to something of value. As the grains of rice fill the cup you feel more and more ready; this is, I believe, the best way to deal with stress.

Attendance alone doesn’t earn a grain of rice – you have to be present; giving 100% of what you’ve got to give and genuinely listening – not waiting to talk – which is something I’ll admit that I can struggle with. When you are stubborn, resistant to new ideas or in attendance-only-mode grains of rice are removed from the cup. Everyone will have a few of those, but it’s certainly a pile we need to keep to a minimum!

Today I saw this video that uses 28,835 jelly beans to demonstrate how all of our ‘single days’ add up. When the video isolates one single bean to illustrate “your first day”  my mind jumped to the cup-filling-with-rice/preparation concept. Beside all the other beans that one yellow jelly bean looked so… small – as if it could never matter; the idea of it ever becoming the pile – with all its impact – seems unfathomable. But like the grains of rice… they add up too. As you work to achieve your goals, your efforts big and small have value.

Every step you take matters, first ones just as much as last ones.

Cool – you did that too?

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Pert Plus Since I’m on a reminiscing kick… ( see the previous blog post about my mom’s gift)

In 1992, I came home from Barcelona with two Olympic Gold medals. I was 24, a world and olympic champion and when I went back to university – even with all that success – it seemed that no one knew (or cared?) what I’d achieved. I remember walking around the Western campus realizing that no one cared about the Olympics or had any idea of what an awesome summer I’d just had. I was disappointed… But not totally surprised, after all – I was just a canadian rower.

On my first Thursday night at the Ceeps that changed a little bit. The Ceeps is an off-campus bar (I actually worked there, bussing tables when I could work it in with my training schedule) – and it seemed that after a few pints of beer canadians had a much better memory! I was shown that they were passionate about the Games and Canada’s success. Maybe it was just liquid courage to share, but suddenly I heard about all the time they had spent jumping up and down on their couches – screaming “GO CANADA!!! ” and singing with/at their TVs. It was awesome! I was so proud of what we’d done and it was so great to hear how Canadians were too. That said, the wee bit of fame didn’t last long. Pretty soon, everyone – including myself – got back to our normal lives and the summer Games seemed far away. The Olympics and the mistaken idea that I’d be ‘famous’ for winning at the Olympics…faded.

Until my Pert Plus commercial. Continue reading

My Rowing Career in a Book: My mom’s incredible labour of love

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“Once there was a dream… The result is history”

My mom gave me an amazing gift for Christmas this year. It’s the most incredible book/binder that includes all the press clippings that she had kept from my entire rowing career.

Apparently it’s been her project for months. She was working on it all summer: sorting, cutting, compiling…. From the scribble page in my high school note book that was and ode to the sport I was just learning in 1986* (!!!! How did she find THAT!), through Jr. Worlds, rowing/awards at Western University, Sr Worlds, PanAms, Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games, Arctic adventures, snowboarding, triathlons, fundraising, sponsorships, profiles, Kilimanjaro climbs, awards, inductions, Olympic bids, PanAm bids, civic/ambassador events, job announcements, car articles, home reno articles, more fundraising, mentoring and … finally my book launch in 2012. Coopers and Lybrand, Timex, Pert Plus, Milk, AT&T, Avon, Pepsi, Zurich Financial put me in some incredible campaigns. Each clipping she included shows the date, and which newspaper – usually via a clipping from that days newspaper.

It’s all there. Continue reading