A sense of wow. In London and in the Olympic Village

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My second day in London and being at the Olympics is certainly living up to memory. It’s always bigger and brighter around them. These are my 8th Olympic Games and each time I arrive I am filled with a sense of wow.  I’ve been to three games as an athlete, three as the team mentor/athlete service officer and these are my second as media. When rowing starts I will be working on CTV’s prime time show with Brian Williams as a studio analyst. It certainly is a bit of a dream to be working with Brian – he has told the story of some many incredible Olympic moments – including my own.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit worried about keeping up with him!

Yesterday was a whirlwind of London tourist sites. I was with a group of my broadcast team mates and after getting settled into our desks and given our local cell phones we set out to orient ourselves – and frankly to start the process of beating jet lag. We watched the British Open over a long lunch in Canary Wharf, saw Big Ben, Canada House in Trafalgar Square, walked along The Stand to Leister Square, stopped at the Maple Leaf Pub in Covent Garden and then had dinner in Piccadilly Circus. Take that jet lag!!

When I first arrived here on Friday night, I thought just being in London and traveling around the city and seeing all the Olympic Venue signage and advertising made the Olympics seem so real. It kinda did – but after today – it’s even more real.  Continue reading

Lucerne and its lion

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I’m in Lucerne for the weekend to watch a World Cup rowing regatta. So so nice. So many friends and familiar faces – the last time I was here was in 2004 – but Lucerne is like mecca to a rower. There is something very special about racing here… it is like our Wimbledon.
On the way to the Rotsee where the regatta takes place is one of my fav places on earth. There is a monument – the Lion Monument that is a memorial to the Swiss guard who stood to protect the French king that they’d been hired- and swore to protect. (Louis XIV of the Marie Antoinette – Let them eat Cake fame… ) Of course the mobs overwhelmed and killed the Swiss Guard.  The monument is carved into an impressive stone wall – a cliff almost and shows a Lion who has been mortally wounded in combat. He is dying a valiant and brave death. Part of me always thought that high performance sport, and I guess specifically rowing, is like that. Before the race you know that you will need to throw yourself onto the sword. We choose to go into a battle that will feel like it’s killing us – and yet we do it anyway. In it’s peaceful way, it is brave and valiant. I used to stop here on my way to races that I was nervous about and somehow it made me feel brave and valiant too.

The joy of a local adventure – on a bike

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Kevin Wallace and his Gears team set me up on my new Cannondale Super6

More and more I’ve been getting on my bike. Around Toronto I’m mostly on a beat up old mtn bike because I think it handles the cracked up roads and sidewalks while allowing me to defensively ride amongst the cars. (Please Mayor Ford- don’t give up on dedicated bike lanes!) Recently, my partner and I got road bikes and we’re loving the freedom and the workout that they provide us. Urban, sub-urban and country rides – we’re having a blast.

My good friend Kevin Wallace (featured in all of my adventure racing stories) and the gang at Gears Bike shop have set me, and some of my Olympic peers up on some sweet Cannondale bikes. Gears hopes to show everyone how much joy and adventure can come from a bike – we all use them differently – for travel, transport and play… but almost everyone has ridden a bike with child like joy. If you haven’t been on one lately… give it a try.

I absolutely love this video (and the whole series of others) that Gears has put together.

One week later – The Power of More has launched

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Power of More Book launch at Ben McNally's books

Signing books at my book launch. Yes that's a Corona by my side and yes - that is Cdn author, Peter C Newman waiting for his!

On May 17th, at Ben McNally’s gorgeous bookstore in downtown Toronto I hosted a little party to celebrate the publication of my book. (Really, if your downtown – pop in. 366 Bay St. 2blks south of Queen. St. It’s kind of a magical place for books.)

For me- it was a very special night. Not just because my book was actually real and being sold but because so many people came to show their support for me. People from so many different corners of my life; my partner, our families, friends from rowing, university, my GirlImpact trip to Africa, the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid, my Tuscany trips, other Olympians and journalists – who came not to work, but as my friends, and so many others.

The plan was to begin greeting people at 5pm and then at around 6:30 I would address the group after that I’d sign books. Corona (Thank you Courtney and CoronaExtra!!), wine and some hors d’oeuvres would be served – I wanted this to be a celebration! As people began to arrive, all my worlds were colliding!  I felt as if I was a dog in a squirrel park! I didn’t know where to focus. How was I to keep everyone happy? Ben McNally, the book store owner, had warned that once I sat at the autograph table I would be stuck there – with no chance left to wander and gab through the crowd. Turns out – that was the perfect thing for me – at the table I only had one person to focus on and that was who ever it was who handed me a book!

I acknowledged a few special people who had come. My parents of course, and Deanah’s parents as well as her sister-in-law and her adorable two nieces. I thanked my aunt and uncle for coming from Vancouver. (It was their 50th anniversary but I was sworn to not make a big deal of it – Happy Anniversary Woody and Sherrill!). Peter C Newman and his wife had come, he’s written 24 books and sold over 2 million copies. I said I’d be happy with a mere million. I got a raised eyebrow and a laugh in return. Brian Williams was there; he’s the legendary canadian broadcaster – he’s covered 13 Olympic Games and I will have the privilege of working with him this summer at the London 2012 Games where I’ll be a Studio Analyst.  Continue reading