Flash Back: 1999 Nationals

Here are two routines that a dear friend Mario Lam recently transfered from VHS (ha remember that).  Thank you so much for doing that and sharing these wonderful memories (for those of us from that time when not everything ended up on the internet – well I suppose it does now!).

Here’s my ball routine:

And rope (can you count the miscues… there’s a few mistakes but I suppose these things happen!)

“Ready for my close up Mr.Camera Man”

As I’ve previously noted, I had the privilege of working for CTV at the Olympics as an analyst for the Rhythmic Gymnastics competition.  Although I was pretty nervous before it all began I have to admit, it was a lot of fun!!! I guess all of those years of “practice” paid off! I hope that I will have the chance to do it again, be it for rhythmic gymnastics or as a springboard for something else/different.

For those of you not in Canada, and unable to watch it I have found a youtube version. Enjoy!! (click on the name below)

Evgeniya Kanaeva , 2012 Olympic Champion – ball 

Russia’s Evgeniya Kanaeva performs her ball routine in podium training.

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

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


Rhythmics on top of the world!


As an athlete and an artist, it’s wonderful to see my passions unite.  This sculpture was created by Eleanor Candozo.  If you’re arriving to Heathrow Terminal 5, you’ll see the tribute she has made to Welsch gymnast Frankie Jones!

Speaking of departing I must return to packing – my least favourite activity 😉

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 🙂