A day later, I am still pinching myself!
Words cannot describe what I am feeling – I barely slept all night! It seems so surreal and like I am going to wake up and have to actually compete!
I wrote in my last post about my trainer asking me, “Why not?”. What I did not say was the questions that preceded that were “Do you believe you are the best?” and my response was no. He then asked “Do you believe you could be?” to which I answered, “I don’t know.” It was then that he asked me “Why not?”
I had no good answer for him. I sat on the bike for 30 minutes after that workout session so mad at myself. But knowing that he believed in me so much (along with so many others), I came to the conclusion that maybe I did not think it was possible then but I knew that I was going to do everything in my power to get there. That moment, the fire inside me truly ignited. I knew that I had an opportunity that so many dream of and I knew that I had to give it my all.
I faced the next months of training with a different approach. I loved the good days and appreciated the bad days as they were necessary to learn. I fed off the dynamic between Jason, Karen, Dave and I in the gym knowing I was fortunate to have them as training partners and as my coach but most importantly, my friends. With them, I could share the immediate experience and they were right on the Olympic journey with me.
When I left for London, this is what I knew: I have loved the process of getting here – the good, the bad, all of it. It has been an invaluable experience. I love the sport and pushing myself to new limits; nothing can change that. I also knew that I was jumping better in training than I ever have in my life.
Fast forward to competition day. It’s a strange feeling waking up on the day of your Olympic competition. It’s a day you think about, dream about, stress about, get excited for and when it actually comes, it doesn’t quite seem real. Having Karen as my roommate here is amazing because we have gone through the entire process together. We worked together to qualify two spots, we trained together and pushed each other and having such a close friend right there with you is comforting.
When we got to the stadium to warm up, we only had 30 minutes on the warm-up trampolines which seemed to fly by. All of a sudden, we were being marshaled into the hall to line up to march out. At this point, I was really nervous and you could feel the energy in the room. When you march out, you know that this is the time you have been working for which is both exciting and nerve racking. As much as I love the sport and the challenge of competition, it’s hard to calm yourself in that kind of environment. Karen and I were one after the other so we go to march out together. In our one touch (before we compete, we get to touch the competition equipment once), I was shaky and needless to say, it was not my strongest turn. Going to the side and starting to visualize my routine, I continued to shake a bit but when I looked up, I saw my family sitting there, right in front of me and that was a calming sight.
For my first routine, I know I was cautious because of the extra energy I felt. The nerves can make the first routine challenging because you need to be strong, meticulous and precise on the easier skills. Because there is so much time between the two routines, we were allowed to go back into the warm up hall. Karen and I went and on my first turn back there, I honestly remembered how much I love the sport for what it was and I knew I really had to enjoy the moment.
After a few more turns in the back, Karen and I headed out into the arena for our second turn. On the trampoline, I was still a bit shaky with nerves because I still wanted to go into the final. Pre-bounces are in a way the hardest part because you are trying to gain height, stay stable and find a good bounce to start off your routine. One trick at a time, I tried to keep strong and keep breathing. I felt hugely relieved at the end of my routine knowing that it was enough to get me into the top 8 alongside Karen.
The final format was different, we did not even march out of the stadium before lining up and presenting to the judges. I was going into the final in fourth place (though it starts from scratch in the finals), which was ideal because it showed me that I had nothing to lose. This is when I really started enjoying the moment – I knew that I could go out and give ‘er. I had finally stopped shaking and loved the environment. The routine itself is a bit of a blur but after landing and seeing the smile on my coach’s face, I knew it was good and it felt good. Sitting and waiting for your score seems like such a long time but when it finally came up, I honestly couldn’t believe it! I had never broken the 57 mark in my life! (It is possible that I swore on television… ) Karen ran up to me and hugged me and told me that she thought that might take it and that the Chinese were shocked. I did not want to think it was possible since there were three competitors to go so we just sat and waited.
After He Wenna stumbled on her kill bounce, there was a brief moment where we thought that Karen and I would both be on the podium and that we had gotten the fairytale ending we hoped and worked for but when the score came up, less than 0.1 ahead of Karen, I was shocked. Firstly, because He Wenna had edged Karen out but also because I had just done something I only ever dreamed of.
Competing my final routine was a highlight because that’s the moment I was doing what I loved and was really in the zone but I have never felt so proud to stand on top of the podium, watching the flag raise and hearing the anthem play. I will never forget that moment or all the people that helped me get there. The one thing that would have made it better would have been to have my amazing teammate, a true champion for our sport and the one who paved the way for Canadian trampoline, Karen, standing with me.
I am honoured to be a part of the Canadian team with such amazing athletes and so thrilled I made my country proud. Every athlete here representing Canada is someone to be tremendously proud of for their dedication, perseverance, hard work and relentless efforts!
The response I have received is overwhelming and I want to thank everyone for their well wishes leading up to the competition, support right through and generous comments after!
Keep cheering on our Canadians – a team of unbelievable athletes! LET’S GO CANADA!