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!)
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.
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!!!
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!!!!