Life Lessons from Kathleen Heddle

Kathleen Heddle Mother, Wife, Friend, 3x Olympic Champion 1965-2021

I’d like to share 2 life lessons I learned from Kathleen Heddle, a Canadian Olympic legend with 3 Summer Olympic gold medals as well as a bronze. Kathleen Heddle was my rowing partner for the better part of a decade. She passed away January 11th, after a brave 6-year battle with 4 different cancers.   Kathleen was quiet and unassuming and yet she was also the greatest Canadian, (if not one of the best global) rowers ever.  I am grateful not only for the sporting memories that we share but these and many other life lessons I drew from the time we shared.

  1. Fear and Doubt are part of a Champion’s path. Do not worry if, for a moment (or longer) you question yourself, your goal or your abilities; you are not alone. Your peers and competitors will be experiencing the same emotions. They are a normal part of an ambitious path.

On the eve of one of our first big wins, I shared with Kathleen that I was scared – the expectations for us to win were intimidating. When she, the GOAT that she is, shared with me that she was scared too, I knew I’d be okay. With my fear mixed in with my confidence – we won the next day, and (for the most part), for the next 5 years.

  • Relationships are not 50:50. Partnerships aren’t about meeting in the middle. They aren’t 50:50. You give 100% of what you’ve got and if you’re lucky you’ll be given 100% of what they’ve got.  

Kathleen was quiet, many would have described her as an introvert. She was never going to get 50% louder and I was never going to get 50% quieter – it just wasn’t in our natures. It took time and observation, but when I stopped expecting her to communicate to me in the way I communicated to her (and others), we began to click. (She learned that all the starboards (like me) had a speaking/ coordinating role and she stopped expecting me to say nothing.) We shifted our focus to each other’s strengths and quickly went from being a good combo to a great one.   

I’m a better Chef to this team because of her.

Kathleen Heddle 1965-2021

One thought on “Life Lessons from Kathleen Heddle

  1. What an awesome woman. What an awesome life. The best athletes I have ever had the joy of watching.
    Thank you so very much for the experience.

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