I’ve never considered myself an “athlete”. Growing up I certainly was anything but athletic, and even now as a fitness professional I find it hard to accept that as a fitting title.
Perhaps I’m harder on myself than I should be, or perhaps I reserve the word athlete for those who I perceive as more dedicated than I am. I am equally as fond of sitting on the couch and eating pizza as I am spending the day dripping in sweat at a fitness conference. Certainly even the most dedicated athletes spend their fair share of time on the couch (and hopefully eating pizza, it makes me sad to think of anyone not being able to enjoy some form of pizza!), but still I find myself shrugging it off anytime someone tries to label me as one.
In my mind, athletes are those who work day in and day out, those who truly dedicate themselves to their sport, people like Ellie Black.
Having had the absolute pleasure to meet her and get to interview her last summer at her home gym in Halifax after her impressive showing at the Pan Am games, I’ve been very much looking forward to seeing her perform in Rio, and while she may not have made it to the podium she still has made us extremely proud!
To see her finish 5th in all-around (which is a best ever for Canada. The previous best was 13th in 1984 achieved by Bonnie Wittmeier) was amazing and the amount of athleticism it takes to do what she does is amazing. It’s interesting how my very short encounter with Ellie has resonated so much with not just me, but my clients, friends, and family. Everyone has been eager to talk to me about when she is competing, and how she did. It’s those threads (however thin they may be) that connect us all to the individual athletes that make it so much more fun to cheer for your country.
When you can’t catch all the events you’d like to, watching the highlights to get caught up is great, but Sport Chek has really found a way to help us connect with the emotion involved in competing at that level. Earlier this week they released their second Olympic Manifesto video which highlights the moments of Canadian athletes throughout the games so far, and each time I watch it I can feel myself tear up.
And that last clip of Penny, I think it captures it all.
It’s not just about the successes, it’s about the heartbreaks, the struggles, the wins, the happy, the sad, the disbelieve, the crushed. Because it takes ALL of those moments to have #WhatItTakes to perform at the level of our athletes. The emotion is raw, it’s real, and it’s what drives them to continue looking forward to next time.
As I sit here typing, the Canadian Women’s Soccer team has advanced to the semi-finals, and it’s pretty awesome that all of our medals thus far have been won by women.. Knowing that I live in a country where so many fabulous women (and men!) have #WhatItTakes is inspiring and really encourages me to embrace the label of athlete. No, I will never be part of Team Canada, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to strive to be the best that I can be, and that is what I find most inspiring about the games. Their ability to re-ignite a desire in us to get back to sports we may have forgotten over the years, to excite our youth to get involved in sport and to dream of being the best of the best.
So as the games continue, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the good with the bad, and stand proud of all of our athletes who have worked so hard to get where they are, even those who didn’t make Team Canada this time around. Because they are all still training, still working hard and showing us all #WhatItTakes to be the best.
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What has been your favourite moment of the game so far (Canadian or not)?
A little bonus for you…
While working on this piece I was looking back through my files and found some footage of Ellie practising that I haven’t previously shared. Pieced together it’s pretty short, but I thought it was still fun to add in for a little behind the scenes of #WhatItTakes to be #5 in the world! You can see her in the screenshot below standing in the back of the gym in front of the red mat that is along the wall. She’s wearing black shorts an a blue sports bra, and starts flipping the second you hit play. 😉
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Sport Chek, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.