Yes AND… Simon’s note

On the heels of this year’s Olympic Excellence Series, I’d like to once again send out my thanks to everyone who attended.  100 athletes +  120 coaches and staff from 16 sports arrived and it really felt like 1 team left.  You are Passionate, Ready, Resilient, Confident and United. (Passionnée, Prête, Resiliente, confiante, et unie).

From Ray Zahab’s “no limits” message – the audacity of a smoker believing he could cross a continent worth of sand!, Sylvie’s realization that sometimes humans really do need to be shaken up – because you CAN is not enough; You have to WANT it – badly.  Both of them spoke of staying focused on your commitment to ‘self’ and the journey – that looking, and going, forward was the only option.

Johann’s understanding of the self instructions of the ‘short true sentences’ that only we hear – how powerful was that!! His acceptance of a being a team member who’s role was to make the athletes around him stronger is what made him a 4 time Olympic Gold medallist (3 in front of a Home crowd).

The freshness of Adam’s message was evident as he spoke. Racing and the Olympics are HARD.  While searching for the answer “Why” can make us all feel better, it’s not always productive. Again the message of looking forward resonated as Adam spoke about steering away from the negative and towards the positive ‘ego’ that represents your commitment to your journey and yourself.

The media summit that followed was an example of how the “overwhelming”, “massive”, and “huge” (why did they have to keep using those words!!) demands of media can be met in an organized fashion. The 100 athletes in attendance did roughly 1400+ interviews in the two days!!! Impressive!

Here is one more athlete’s message for you – Simon Whitfield, (Triathlon, Gold-2000 and Silver-2008),  was scheduled to speak at this year’s Olympic Excellence Series until his International Federation changed the dates of one of his races. He was forced to send his regrets. When asked if he would like to send a note out to the athletes of the Winter Team he happily provided a message…

Simon’s note

“Mr. and Mrs. winter Olympian. the weight of the country is on your shoulders, don’t fail…..ok then have a great day. period. end of sentence. there is no “i” in team but there is an “m” and an “e”………

now that we’ve got that out of the way.

honestly what can I say, to get where you are now, to be in this wonderful position you’re in, to do something you love, something you excel at, to have this grand opportunity to perform, to express yourself in front of friends and family while wearing the maple leaf…. enjoy it. smile. take a deep breath and take it all in.

In Sydney I was ranked outside of the top 20 in the world, I was young, naive and without even knowing it I was just immersed in the process. I stood on the start line beside the world number 1, the gold medal favorite and as we waited for the rest of the athletes to be marshaled out I said “I hope we don’t get eaten by any sharks”, he didn’t laugh… in fact he had this look on his nerve racked face that said “WHAT!! get away from me”, he came 44th and I cried to O’Canada… In Athens I stood on the start line as the defending Olympic Champion, my mind was fixated on the outcome of winning, I stood beside the same former world number 1 and moments before the start he turned to me and said “there are some pretty fish in the Mediterranean, make sure you check them out” and I said out loud “WHAT get away from me!!”, he won and I came 11th….. In Beijing I stood on the start line just looking for a victim, 5mins before the start I strolled up to a race favorite and former world champion and said “I wonder if there are any fish out there” and when he said “WHAT get away from me!!!” and I knew I was ready.

For me it’s all about process, process, process, being immersed in the process, finding joy in this wonderful way in which we express ourselves and the outcome will take care of itself.

Simon Whitfield

p.s. in 3 Olympics I’ve won, I’ve underperformed and I’ve given it everything to win a Silver medal and the day after each race the sun rose and life just kept rolling along……..


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