Let the hangover begin!!!

In as many ways as the Olympics start with a bang, they also finish equally abruptly.  It is quite remarkable how something you plan and prepare for, for years is suddenly upon you… and then it’s all over in what feels like the blink of an eye.  Yesterday, as I had some time to myself I began to realize the overwhelming surge of emotions that I had obviously suppressed (for the most part).  The Olympics is inevitably one of the greatest emotional roller coasters of all time. Someone you know (or at least feel an affinity for) is experiencing their greatest triumph or their greatest defeat.  If someone you love/care about/know is competing, you want, so very strongly, for them to perform well and yet have no capacity to do anything other than love, wish, pray, and cheer. (And we all know I do a lot of all of these – especially the latter. Which is why this picture was so meaningful to me!)

A billboard in London that captures my sentiments exactly!

But enough about that. What’s happened has happened. It is impossible to stay up all of the time, and it was a remarkable few weeks. Besides as Dr. Seuss once wrote: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

And smile I did. Of course my husband winning a silver had a lot to do with it.  To see their ability to overcome themselves, unite, refocus and then do what they are capable of was remarkable. (If you just get out of your own way… it’s amazing what will come to you. -Laird Hamilton.)  It was also a lot of fun catching other events, taking in the atmosphere and pride of Great Britain and cheering on incredibly talented athletes.

But, one of the most fun parts was doing analysis for CTV. If you know me (and likely for most of you reading this, you know me well), you know that it is a role I would treasure. It is in fact a role I have been rehearsing for most of my life.  You see, when I was a young girl, not only would I practice gymnastics in my back yard, but after my routine I would interview myself. Destiny? Fate? Perhaps…

Jumping into a position you’ve never done while the entire nation is watching is, to put it mildly, slightly nerve wracking. I kept reminding myself that the majority of people watching were going to be the people who love me most, and like my mother, well you’re stuck with me and I’m pretty sure you’d still love me regardless of the outcome.  BUT, I have to say I was surprised, pleased and overwhelmed with the outpouring of positive comments and support. Thank you one and all for your kind messages!  My artistic gymnastics counterpart Kyle Shewfelt, warned me not to look at twitter or facebook during the broadcast – and with much hesitation I went against his advice. Thankfully at this point no one has highlighted those moments where I stuck my foot in my mouth, or began to go down one path and half way down realized “ahhh I don’t want to be here!” so I aborted mission.  If you do have constructive criticism I would eventually like to hear it (lovingly wrapped in kindness of course), because hopefully this will not be my last broadcasting opportunity.

On set with Rod Black ready to tape the Review/Preview

I think it was so much fun because I was working with one of the best – Rod Black. He along with the production team were so helpful and nurturing, guiding me the whole way along.  I was lucky to be in London so that I had a chance to check out the venue since initially CTV wanted me to ‘call it’ from Toronto.  In fact, perhaps you were not aware but the whole time Rod and I were in a little black booth in the International Broadcast Centre!!!

Our little black booth

It’s too bad we didn’t get to experience it live, but I’m not complaining. The accreditation pass I received is too good to be true – and if I ever make it to another Olympic Games I don’t know how I’d live without one. There were even a few times where I could get somewhere and Malcolm couldn’t – a shocking first, and second, and…. (hehehe)


As I lived and breathed these last few weeks in my various capacities I often wondered what makes the Olympics so special.  It is so powerful to be a part of the World coming together to celebrate people’s dreams, their excellence through work & passion, and to unite in harmony.  We revel in the stories regardless of sport, nation, or gender. But there is magic beyond this.  Perhaps it is because unlike the NHL with it’s 82 games per season, or the MLB with 162 (!!!), these competitors have one shot. Everything must come together in this particular moment in time. And what a challenge that is. For every athlete that wins there are so many more that are fighting for that podium. For every athlete that qualifies and competes there are thousands who have been so close. Yes, Olympians are incredible… but can’t it really be about the journey and not the destination (even in the aftermath of London 2012)?!

The lack of over saturation of amateur sport and the Olympics helps to maintain its allure and importance.  Yet many of these athletes (after taking a brief pause) will be back training for Rio very soon.  One person who always remembered – in the good times, the bad, and before they were stars was Randy Starkman.  He was a journalist, but more importantly a friend and advocate of amateur athletes, always caring more about the person than the story.  When he died suddenly in April of this year, the sporting world mourned. It was an honour to attend a breakfast remembering Randy and the legacy he left behind.

One of the catch phrases of these Olympics was “Inspiring a Generation”.  I know I was personally moved and motivated by the performances I saw, by the people who made the  Games happen (the volunteers were outstanding), by the triumphs and those who rose out of the ashes, and by the friendships gained along the way.  I hope you have been inspired as much I have – and I hope that we can all continue to give life to the Olympic ideals until the next torch is lit in Rio.

PS. I say this like the Para-Olympic Games aren’t just a few weeks away! PHEW, we couldn’t just end it right there… please be sure to tune in. If you thought you were already inspired, you haven’t seen anything yet!!!!

Taking in the excitement of Olympic Park


Gymnasts making their mark in London

The past few weeks have been quite remarkable for female gymnasts… and I’m including artistic, trampoline and rhythmic in that group!  The women on Canada’s artistic team not only qualified a full team to these Games, but then made team finals. AND, if that wasn’t enough they improved on their result through their consistency and strength and finished in 5th position!! Bluewater Gymnastics Club’s (where I’ve choreographed quite frequently) Dominique Pegg qualified to the AA final, and finished in 17th place. AND, Ellie Black and Brittany Rogers made Vault finals.

And then there was Trampoline. Four time Olympian Karen Cockburn showed her true class, and (in my opinion) should have won bronze (and instead came 4th).  But the moment we had all been waiting for was Canada’s Gold Medal winning routine courtesy of Rosie MacLennan.  I was speaking with her coach Dave last night at Canada House… and it was my impression her win was not a surprise to him. She had definitely been gaining momentum, and was able to put it all together when it counted!  (and isn’t that really what the Olympics are about – it all coming together in this one moment in time…)

Speaking of that word: MOMENTUM.  I’m really hoping that our Canadian Rhythmic Team can keep this good swing going!  The girls have it, or so it seems. Just arriving from their European training base in Marbella, the Rhythmic team has settled into the village and begin their training today.  I am excited to go & watch them tomorrow and Wednesday before their competition begins on August 9th.

Be sure to check the CTVOlympic.ca Viewers Guide

Katrina Cameron (in her Gymnastics Mississauga days) at the COH

Ps. When I was at Canada Olympic House guess who I found?!  Pretty awesome… I think later on I also saw Rose Cossar but sadly I don’t have a pic – sorry Rosie!!!

Bed time. Early rise for practice tomorrow – can’t wait to see the girls in action!

Baby Alexandra Landry at the Canadian Olympic House

What goes up… must come down ;)

The Olympics are a roller coaster. They have to be. No one can stay UP that long. Furthermore inherently when there is a winner – there are those that don’t win… I’m not using the L word because NO ONE here is that awful five letter word. They are all champions, they are all heroes.

Yesterday in particular was one of those days… it was utterly heartbreaking to see Paula Findley’s experience.  The dangerous course took it’s tool on her, as well as the challenging year she’s had.  She is a tremendous athlete and person.  I know that this experience however frustrating and ‘saddening’ is truly going to make her even better in the long run. That has always been my experience.  We (Malcolm, Anita, Alex & I) were at Canada Olympic House when the Cycling team pursuit and Trampoline were on.  From the lowest of lows, to literally the highest of highs (Rosie & Karen) when Canada won it’s first Olympic Medal and Karen showed true class in her fourth Olympics.

Yesterday was also a low day for me… although I suppose going to bed at 5:30 am will do that to you 😉 I think “it” all finally got to me. The highs, the emotions, the lack of sleep. Yesterday I was a wreck. AND I was loosing my voice. A slight occupational hazard when the Commentary has yet to begin… Well, as my mom has always called me ‘wretched excess’ so it’s really no surprise.  Alas, it’s time to get a bit of balance.

It is hard not to do everything – or try to.  But the distance of where we’re staying, the distances to walk at all of the venues, and the crowds make it all seem like a battle to get to where you’re going.  Olympic Park is vast and when you put that in combination with millions of people it’s not a place I’ve enjoyed very much thus far.  But, I suppose if it’s a fight to get to the Olympics for the athletes why should it be any different for us?!

I suppose now I should talk about what you’re all likely wondering: Is Prince Harry really that cute in person? Malcolm (and I) did have the honour of representing the Rowers during Prince Harry’s visit to Canada Olympic House. It was a pleasure to meet him – he truly is very kind and generous, and very relaxed… I have a tendency to think “he’s just another guy who was born into a certain life”… but it is impressive what he’s done with his life and his position.  The most fun was watching how easy the conversation was as Malcolm talked Apache helicopters during the race… boys will be boys 😉

Anyways. The day is calling and there’s always a tonne to do. I should head off but hopefully the next post will be a little more frequent and I will try to post some pictures too. Here’s to another great day!!!!

Silver’s SO SWEET!

WOW. All I can say is what an incredible journey and triumph this has been!

This is short & sweet (but still not as sweet as that silver baby)… I don’t have much time as I have to head to the celebrations! BUT, I wanted to say a HUGE thank you to all of our dear friends and family for their continuous love and support.  You have all had a wonderful impact and influence, and it truly means so much!

I hope you will understand my inability to respond to each one of your facebook comments/messages just yet. BUT, we definitely feel the love and truly truly are so grateful for your kind words!

I know this is the sign of things to come for the Rowers and Team Canada… GIVE YOUR EVERYTHING!!! (And the boys definitely did!)

Much love & big cheers all around xoxo
~ EH!!!!!!

One breath, one stroke at a time

The Olympics are a ride. An emotional and physical roller coaster. But we wouldn’t have it any other way would we?

I’m very excited to watch my anchor, my rock, my husband Malcolm and the CDN Men’s 8+ carpe diem tomorrow. His mantra: One breath, one stroke at a time. It’s going to happen. I feel it with every cell in my body, and every fibre of my being.  The Heavyweights are definitely going to “GIVE YOUR EVERYTHING”!

This afternoon I watched TV, and took in all of the other sports. I know this is kind of a silly statement, but THE OLYMPICS ARE AWESOME. To see a young girl clean and jerk 131 kg, to watch the Canadian Women’s gymnastics team qualify for the team finals for the first time EVER, to see the swimmers, the divers, the badminton, table tennis, the list goes on and on….  It’s incredible.

I apologise for not writing sooner – I was finessing my internet/phone situation.  I hope to be updating more.

Highlights so far:
– listening to the Four Tenors sing O’Canada and Hallelujah
– using my media pass to get in… pretty much everywhere #score 😉
– cheering my heart out for the incredible rowing team (One stroke, one breath!)
– watching the Women’s gymnastics team make history (ok it was on tv but still…)
– walking every where
and I know this is just the beginning.

Finally, this is perhaps redundant but I love my husband. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, being so close to someone and not being able to ‘BE’ with them must make it grow even more!  Well if love can be the fuel, I know that man will have a full tank!

From Malcolm and myself thank you one and all for your support. It truly does mean so much!!! And now to bed, we have a big day tomorrow 😉

Your glimpse into the Games

Hello friends & family 🙂

I’ve been asked quite a lot to list when the ‘key events’ for the Howards will be on the ‘teley’.  I’m not sure how accurate this information is, as it’s just what they have written on the website, but it will likely give you a place to start!

The TV Schedule is below. You can always check World Rowing for more information. They might have the live feed as well… I also believe that they will be streaming live from CTV!

Heats: Saturday July 28th
CTV: 4am
OLN: 6am

Reps (if necessary): Monday July 30th
CTV: 4am

Finals: Wednesday August 1st
CTV: 5:40am

Rhythmic Gymnastics:

Qualifiers Day 1: Thursday August 9th
CTV: 7am
TSN: 7:45am

Qualifiers Day 2: Friday August 10th
Sportsnet: 11:30am

Individual Finals: Saturday August 11th
TSN: 8:30 am

Group Finals: Sunday August 12th
Sportsnet: 12:30pm

And of course you can always check the blog, as I will be doing my best to keep you in the loop! If you have questions, comments, or requests (no guarantees though) please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Feel free to comment or email me: erika@erikahoward.ca


Looking forward …looking back

Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months, and years they spent preparing for it.  The victorious performance itself is merely a demonstration of their champion character. ~ T. Allan Armstrong

It is a very natural occurrence that at important events in our lives, we often feel retrospective.  As I think of, dream about, and have mini-“EB” (aka emotional basket-case, or as I like to call it Emashional bosket-case) moments I cannot help but remember the road that brought me to this point.  I’m talking about it like this journey has really been mine – when in reality, I have been a happy helper (tag along) as Malcolm climbs this next mountain.  But, wow the view from the top!  It’s hard not to imagine what’s on the other side… and I frequently have to stop myself from thinking of all of the new adventures that await us Post-O. I sometimes picture what my husband will be like when he’s not the zombie version of himself due to constant all out training. How will I be able to adapt to making normal size meals? How will he adapt to having to clean the bathroom on occasion?

I think I must be pretty good at living in the present moment because I feel like the Games have snuck up on me.  I really cannot believe they are almost here.  And the thing is living in that present moment is going to be the key – for all of us.

To drink in this incredible experience. To not to fret about what is coming, but focus only on the here and now.  To not to try to control or manipulate things but stay open to what opportunities come about.  And first and foremost to stay grounded in the fact that what we are is what we are. For the athletes everything that brought them to this point. Each step they took to climb this mountain has carved them into the person they are. Who knows what will happen in London. Big challenges create big moments.  And to not let the past define us, nor determine our future.  There will be many who will rise even higher… but the thing I always think about is as incredible as those moments are, as brilliant as those accomplishments, they don’t actually change someone.  (well we hope not).

My wonderful husband pre-O will be the same post-O, though perhaps a little more chipper Thursday through Saturday 😉  When I was at the Olympic training centre in Colorado Springs one year I found some motivational papers… written is one of my favourite all time quotes:

A true champion is a champion in life, not just in sport.

He is my champion. My anchor.
CTV produced a little profile on him…

AND, then to end on a bit of lighter note, here’s something to make you laugh. One of my favourite videos is this one of a young girl and her daily affirmations.  Well I made my own version for the rowers.  Hope you enjoy!

The Road to London…

Well, it’s almost that time again.
The magical period that rolls around every four (well, technically two) years that captivates almost everyone on the planet.

The Olympic Games…
Since I was a little girl I have been in love with the Olympics.  Initially it was all about wanting to be in them, and dedicating my life to achieving that goal.  Now it is about being caught up in the magic.

The Olympics have a way of distilling life into this incredible little package.  We get to live others dreams first hand; we catch glimpses into their sweat-filled journey to this particular moment in time [that is for the fortunate ones who are actually able to get to this moment – but more on that later], we’re able to imagine the magnificent dedication it takes to get to this level, and take on their goals, their triumphs, and also their defeats as if they were our own.  Sport has this incredible power of enabling fans to take the athletes’ accomplishments personally.  And I honestly mean this in the best way possible!  We rally, we cheer, we cry, we jump and scream and wear the most ridiculous paraphernalia with the belief that our faith can and will affect the outcome.  The swelling of National Pride during the Games is to me, one of the most inspiring and powerful phenomenon.  Regardless of the sport, the gender, the religion, or race – all we want is the best for that athlete… that person.  I love sport so much, because it is how I aim to live my life.

Dream big. Dedicate yourself. Believe. Find support in like-minded people, and support them along the path. Learn. Grow. Fail. Triumph. Share your passion. Repeat! (as often as necessary and as often as possible)

The last week I began to realize that the Olympics are taking over my life. (Oh what a wonderful predicament.)  This is of course with very good explanation.  My incredible husband is, himself, preparing for the Games.  He and his teammates (The Canadian Rowing Men’s 8+) will soon leave for the preparation camp in Europe and then head to England.  Ready, eager, and able to defend their 2008 Gold Medal.

I have much work to do as well.
After years of dreaming, working, and fighting I am finally going to the Olympics.  “Are you competing?” you may ask…  No.  Perhaps it is not the way I initially dreamed, but perhaps this is even sweeter.  You see, since I met and married Malcolm I realized that this role – of being the best supporter is in fact my destiny.

It was actually when Malcolm was competing in the single that I came to this realization.  At that time I felt like I could be of greater assistance (to make up for the crew he didn’t have next to him).  When he moved back into the Eight I think I took it harder than he did.  And then I realized that this is his destiny too.  To help guide his teammates the way he had been mentored in Beijing.

The Howards after the 2011 World Championships in Bled

We always have a role to play.  Sometimes our ego tries to dictate what that role should look like, but if we can be open – we might have the most to give and to gain in where we are in that exact moment.

So I now realize that all of the little things… understanding what he needs before he does, bed at 9pm and up at 6am, cooking enough food for a small army, helping him stretch, doing laundry etc. (oh all the glamorous things you can imagine)  …that is my contribution.  It’s not always easy, especially for someone who is used to centre stage. But knowing that I could have some positive contribution towards his dreams is more gratifying than accomplishing my own.

If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded. – Maya Angelou 

Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many people you have brought with you. – Wil Rose

Actually I will have another role to play in London as well.  Through chance or fate or perhaps a bit of both I will be CTV’s analyst for Rhythmic Gymnastics.  So stayed tuned.  Not only will you see me as the Craziest Canuck cheering our Rowers as they go after their dreams, but I will be sharing my insights and passions about the sport that almost took me to Atlanta and Athens… but has brought me to London instead!

The 11 year old version of me 🙂