Games versus Competition

The PanAm Games are about to begin. They are the 2nd largest multi-sport event after the Summer Olympics. Almost 800 Canadians will be in Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta with you, trying to achieve personal bests, win PamAm medals, set records and earn Olympic Qualification spots. (To be exact, 796 total = 97 coaches+137 support team+ 67 mission team+ 493 athletes).

You are ready.

At the Pan Ams you can draw from the energy and experience of the incredible Canadian team around you; you may learn something from them, and they may learn from you. There will always be something to do, somewhere to explore, someone to talk to and a competition to watch. These sources of inspiration can also be distracting. Be smart.

A multi-sport Games environment can be at the same time incredibly inspiring and motivating as well as challenging. At World Cups and World Championships your team arrives to a single purpose environment that focuses solely on your sport; it’s training & competition schedule, nutrition and culture. That won’t feel like the case in Guadalajara/Puerto Vallarta (or London next year if that is your next stop). The rooms in Mexico are going to be small and cramped, TV and Internet access will be in the Team lounge and the cafeteria is more than an elevator ride away. The organizing committee is responsible for 36 different sports and their venues-which challenges them to not be a  “jack of all trades, master of none.” Be flexible.

You have trained with the goal of your performance being perfect. Remember that this is different from expecting your environment to be perfect. Be aware and flexible to the inevitable ‘imperfections’ of a multi-sport environment. All of the PanAm medals, and Olympic qualification spots for some, will be given out no matter how perfect, imperfect, distracting or inspiring the setting. Be the ones who rise up: you are ready.

After her first race, a few days after the Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver, Clara Hughes shared these thoughts with her teammates. It speaks to the experience of the GAMES versus the opportunity of the COMPETITION.

“I realized that even an honor this huge (carrying the flag), this special, well, in the end, it does NOT compare to racing. It does not compare to competing. It does not compare to having the chance to perform and to push myself and to have the opportunity to challenge myself, to face the deep down fears that we all have as athletes when it is game time. Carrying the flag made me realize that I GET TO RACE AT THE OLYMPICS and that this alone is something that will never, ever compare to anything else in life. It made me hungry to compete. It made me aware of the chance I had and have in these Games to put myself out there and max myself out. It made racing yesterday and the thought of racing again next week seem like the greatest thing in the world…”

You are ready for the opportunity; be inspired by it, revel it. YOU GET TO RACE AT THE PANAMS! Go Canada!

Best wishes for an amazing performance,

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