Today’s Olympic related activities include making a big banner with the kids saying “We Believe—In You.” My son wants to hold it up at the Opening Ceremonies for the athletes to see from the infield. Here is something that has just occurred to me. I have never been to the Opening Ceremonies. Ever. When I was competing the Olympic Ceremonies always happened the day before I started competing and I concluded they would be too distracting and exhausting. Part of me now is wondering what the heck I was thinking. But I was a high-strung athlete who got really, really nervous before races. I don’t know if I had a superstition about the Opening Ceremonies but I really believed they had the potential to hinder my performance. In 1992, the year I smashed my leg just ten weeks before the Olympics, Ken Read who was Chef de Mission in Barcelona, came to see me and ask if I would carry the flag. What an honour that would have been, I am sure a thrill I would have never forgotten, but I just couldn’t see myself handling the excitement and the heat, the waiting and the mental distraction of doing anything but healing. All sorts of accommodations were offered, but with my days divided between two rows and physio and sleeping off the exhaustion of healing, I declined the once in a lifetime opportunity.
Last night I had dreams of competing in the Olympics at forty-five, and not having time to prepare properly (presumably because I was raising two kids!). I woke up feeling like I had messed up an opportunity all the while knowing I had made the right choices on spending my time working and with my kids, rather than training. I guess all of this build up for the Olympics is causing me some nostalgia.
It is hard to argue that my decision to not carry the flag in Barcelona was the right one. I won the Bronze Medal by a smidgen, needing every ounce of energy I had.
In 36hrs Clara Hughes will be carrying the flag for Canada into the Opening Ceremonies. I can’t think of a better choice than Clara, a woman who has competed and won medals in Summer and Winter Games, an athlete who wrote JOY on her hand before winning her Gold Medal in Torino, a spokesperson and champion for kids through her work at Right to Play. She is an exceptional athlete and a fine person, and my kids and I will be cheering her and the entire team on as they walk into the stadium tomorrow full of dreams and determination. Go Canada Go!