Thursday, November 29, 2007

Missing the Olympic test event -

My teammates are away this week in Beijing for the Olympic Test Event.

It's a great opportunity for them to see the venue, be on the Olympic equipment and to get a feel for the environment.

I was invited by the Canadian Olympic Committee to go and to check it out, but I declined.

I want to walk into the Olympic venue and feel amazing! I want to be able to have my first experience in the venue as ultra positive, not as a gimp who is taking pictures and video taping.

I didn't go to the venues before Sydney 2000 or Athens 2004. I think I did alright.

I believe that our state of mind, our preparation and our confidence determines whether or not we can adapt to a situation. I am planning on being in the best shape of my life when I see the venue for the first time. I plan on being ready to deliver my best performances! I plan on feeling like I own that gym!

When it comes to adapting to new environments and situations, there is only one way to do it quickly. Be prepared. I can not reiterate that enough. When you are prepared, whether it be for a competition, a presentation, even a test, you can walk in and just adapt. I have experienced times in the past where I didn't feel as prepared as I should have and I started to panic and make excuses. "I can't do it because the equipment isn't good", "the lights are too bright", etc. I don't like that athlete. I don't want to be him and I will do everything in my power to avoid feeling unprepared.

I am in control of my preparation. My job is to do everything that I can possibly do on a daily basis to make sure that I come one step closer to feeling ready.

If the Olympics were next week then I wouldn't be able to compete. That's a scary thought. But the good news is that they aren't. I still have a little more than 8 months. I need to be diligent and I need to take initiative to make sure that I am prepared.

When I walk into the Olympic venue in August 2008, I will be at my best. I will be ready and I will have an advantage over everyone else...

I will be the most prepared. I will be positive. I will have the most trust and confidence in myself. I will deliver my best performance.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I am spending the next week and a bit in Oakville training with Kelly. Most of my teammates are off to Beijing for the test event and I was already in the East for the Ottawa GMP event, so it all worked out perfectly!

Today I swung for the first time in exactly 3 months. It felt...well, it felt weird.

I never realized the amount of stress and friction swinging on the highbar causes. My wrists and hands were killing me after a couple of turns.

I was extremely cautious when I was up on the bar. I was afraid of kicking too hard in the bottom of the swing and having massive pain in my knees. I was also afraid of falling and having no way of saving myself. If I was to accidentally fall off of the bar I would be screwed because I wouldn't be able to land on my feet. It would be literally impossible for me to absorb the landing. So, I just did simple giant swings and then I would break my swing and gently fly off the bar onto my back.

I never realized how hard this "getting back into gymnastics" process was going to be. Progress has been made, but I still feel so far away from my goal. I feel like a beginner. I remember how I did everything and how it felt, but when I got up onto the bar today I felt like I hadn't done it in a really long time...say, 3 months! I was seeing stars and my heart jumped into my throat a little bit the first few swings around. The adrenaline was pumpin' for sure.

Taking this step and finally getting the guts up to start swinging again did make me feel more like a gymnast though. I forgot how much I missed the whole ritual of putting on my wristbands, grips and chalking up to get ready for my turn. It also felt pretty amazing to experience that weightless feeling that I love.

I don't know why today was the day that I decided this needed to be done. I guess there has been a little voice inside of my head that has been telling me that it's time and I finally conceded to it. It's not that I didn't want to start swinging again, it's just that it had been so long and I was afraid that it might not feel right. I think that is my biggest fear right now. I am afraid that things are going to continue to be painful (not the kind that you can work through, but the kind that tells you that you are not ready) and this is just going to prolong the length of the process. It has already been long, I know it will be longer, but I don't want it to be impossibly know what I'm saying...

I guess I have to start somewhere. Today was a step forward. I didn't crash. I didn't get hurt (except my poor hands!). I took initiative and pushed myself into doing something that I was afraid of.

That's a pretty productive day.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Gold Medal Plates

Yesterday, in Ottawa, was the grand finale of Gold Medal Plates 2007. It was a whirlwind tour, but such an amazing experience (the photo at right is courtesy of Charmaine Crooks and it was taken at the Vancouver GMP Event).

The 2007 goal for GMP was to raise $1,000,000 for Canada's athletes. The final numbers are not in as of yet, but I think it should be close.

So, a few crazy things happened at the Calgary leg of the tour. Let me share.

Kelly Hrudey, a former NHL'er and now CBC Sports personality, was the MC for the dinner. Well, he decides to start the evening off with something very interesting...quoting THIS blog! This is the part he read, from my Gold Medal Plates Toronto post:

"The food and wine at the event were very swanky. There was one bottle up for auction for $14,000. Seriously, who would spend 14 grand on a bottle of wine. That would be almost $500 a sip...are you kidding me. I like wine, but I don't think I could ever appreciate it that much. I would be thinking about the new car I could buy with that money! The food was interesting as well. There was one dish that was some sort of brain, another that was various parts of a spring rolls and cheese balls here. It was very high class."


Some people laughed, I think others were a little surprised. I'm sure a few tried to burn me with glares, but I guess in all honesty, this is the way I really feel so I should stand by it. I'm sure many people are thinking it...I just happened to write it and have it announced to everyone! Thanks Kel! - This blog thing could get me into some big trouble one day. I didn't think more than 10 people read it! - I should have really wrote about how one bottle of $14,000 wine is almost equivalent to a Canadian amateur athletes annual salary. That would have really hit home.

Also in Calgary, I spoke at the VIP reception and I mentioned a little something about the great entertainment in the evening: a performance by Simon Whitfield with backup vocals by Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo. Well, this came back to bite me in the butt as well. When Jim got up to perform he brought Simon up on stage to sing with him, but then he told me to get my butt up there too. I am a horrible singer (although I think I can belt out a pretty sweet tune when I am in my car all by myself!) and I don't know the words to the song '5 days in May'. So there I am, standing on stage with Simon and Jim, looking like a total idiot with a blank stare on my face when I remembered that, being a gymnast and all, I always have party tricks up my sleeve. So I kicked up into a handstand (photo at left courtesy of Tracy Taubert) and held it for most of the song. People cheered and it was a priceless moment. I think it was definitely my fondest memory of was so good that we recreated it in Edmonton and Ottawa!
During all of the events, there were a bunch of live auction trips up for bid. Mine was a Hawaiian vacation and I will be joining a bunch of GMP guests in Maui from February 11-18th. I know, life's rough! The package sold very well and we are going to have an awesome time. We will be staying in condos in Napilli and we are going to surf, snorkel, Hula, zip line, hike, run on the beach...maybe even get a tan! I am really looking forward to the trip because it will be my last chance to unwind and relax before I need to get down to business and start getting prepared for Beijing. I think by the time Maui rolls around I should be at the point where I need a mental break and a little bit of active physical recovery too, so it is perfect timing. I am also really looking forward to spending time with the generous bidders and getting to know them on a more personal level. I have done 2 trips in the past (Quebec City in 2006 and Orlando in 2007) and I made some great friendships and had a lot of fun!
Gold Medal Plates 2007 was a huge success and I can only see it gaining momentum as the Vancouver 2010 Games approach. GE and EPCOR are the primary corporate partners of the events and they have done a wonderful job in helping raise funds for Canadian athletes! Thank You!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Olympic Excellence Series - November 17-19 - Ottawa

This past weekend I was in Ottawa for the Canadian Olympic Committee's "Beijing Olympic Excellence Series".

Every Canadian podium potential athlete was invited to the event and it was good times! There were swimmers, triathletes, kayakers, rowers, water polo players, synchro swimmers, divers, a fencer (Sherraine of the coolest fencers in the world!), shooters, archers, trampolinists, gymnasts, track and field athletes, softball many sports were represented! The cool thing was that every athlete had demonstrated in the past year that they could place within the top 5 in the world. It was a pretty passionate and determined group to spend a weekend with!

Heading into the weekend, I didn't really know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised! We were very spoiled. We got to listen to some of Canada's best athlete speakers and take part in tons of fun and creative team building sessions.

The speakers list was stacked. Veronica Brenner (Silver in Aerials skiing in 2002), Marianne Limpert (1996 Olympic Silver Medallist in Swimming), Daniel Igali (2000 Olympic Gold in wrestling), Ron Maclean (CBC's Hockey Night in Canada) were just a few. All of them were outstanding, but there was one speaker who leaped out in my mind...and that was Sylvie Frechette. I don't know how many of you know her story, but it is one that is extremely captivating and almost inconceivable.

Here is how it begins:

5 days before the 1992 Olympic Games, Sylvie's fiance committed suicide.

Think about that for a minute.

I can't even imagine.

I don't know if I would have the strength to pull through something like that. But she did. She was courageous, determined and somehow found a reason to continue and chase her Olympic dream. She explained that she had worked for 18 years to have an opportunity to become an Olympic Champion. She was ready and there was nothing in the world that could take that chance away from her.

I was just enthralled and captivated when she spoke. I could feel every emotion that she explained. I could hear the sounds, feel the pain...I almost felt like I was in her head as she was explaining her thoughts. It was very moving.

And then, to add insult to injury, her story takes another dark turn when a judging error places her in second. Bastards!

Luckily, after 16 months and 9 days (who's counting eh??) she received the Olympic Gold Medal that she had rightfully earned in Barcelona. I felt like jumping up and down and cheering for her when she came to this part in the story!

The whole group of us did give her a simultaneous standing ovation when she was done! It went on for a long time and it was soooooo well deserved! Talk about inspirational!

We had a lot of team building and discussion sessions as well. We talked about preparing for all possible scenario's before, during and after the games and I feel like I gained some valuable tools.

During one of our team building sessions, we talked about what we want Team Canada to be projected as at the 2008 Games. Professional, Tenacious and Supportive were some of the key words that we came up with. I thought that this was an awesome exercise to do because we all agreed and committed to upholding our Canadian reputation! I really wanted one of the describing words to be simply, "Canadian". I don't know why it is, but that could truly be an adjective. Everyone knows what it means to be Canadian. If you are travelling and you have a maple leaf on your backpack then people automatically think of you as honest, kind, approachable and a good beer drinker! haha. But really, Canadianism is something everyone in Canada and I believe around the world understands and appreciates. What can I say? We are just good people! In fact, I have declared many of my nice American friends as honorary Canadians!

There were some pretty special moments that were had over the weekend. At one point there was a male wrestler and a female water polo player learning how to fence from Sherraine in the hallway as I taught some of the triathletes and water polo girls how to do handstands against the wall. At another point we were all hanging out together and one of the water polo girls was singing her heart out for us all to hear. It's moments like these that I believe are me, moments like these carry so much underlying meaning about friendships, respect and interaction. I believe that in some odd way, something like this is the epitome of the human least the Olympic experience. Random people who are seamlessly connected because of their passion for sport and for their country. Pretty cool.

After the Excellence Series weekend, I feel that the fire inside of me, my desire to represent Canada and deliver another great performance in 2008, has some newly added fuel.

That's a great feeling!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Travel Hecticness...updates coming soon

I have a few posts that have been patiently waiting for their finishing touches. But before they get the attention that they deserve, I have a crazy cross country tour coming up...starting in about 2 hours!

I am going to the Gold Medal Plates event in Vancouver tonight and the Calgary event tomorrow. Then I am off to Ottawa on Friday for the Beijing Olympic Excellence Series and heading to Edmonton for another Gold Medal Plates event on Tuesday. I am coming home for a day and then I am flying back to Ottawa for the final GMP event on Thursday. After all of this, I am going to stay with Kelly and Sue again for a week and a half and then I am attending the Special Olympics Festival on December 5th in Toronto.

It's going to be a hectic couple of weeks, but I should have some time to update soon.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Melissa Grad-gee-ated! - November 13th 2007

Congrats Hun!

Melissa had her convocation today. She got her BA in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology!

She's not only beautiful, but smart too!

I think that one of the most acquired skills gained through completing a University degree is the ability to read and write effectively! Melissa spent many hours writing late night papers and reading what I'm sure felt like endless chapters. But guess what?! No more! She's done. Movin' on...moving forward...and the next stop? Makin' some money! And then she's going to complete her masters degree in education!

I'm very proud of her! It was incredible to be there and watch her walk across the stage, knowing all the hard work that she put forth in order to earn that degree.

Congrats again Melissa!

Now let's celebrate! Champagne anyone?