It has been a day full of field hockey, road racing, rowing, volleyball, gymnastics and more.
For all sports fanatics there is nothing that compares to the next two weeks as the Olympic flame has been lit in Tokyo, Japan. It also reminds me of my own Olympic dream that started in front of my parents’ TV many years ago. Now, I’m hoping to pass on my love of everything Olympics to my son, who is currently practicing his new gymnastics skills after watching the men’s competition.
I collected every newspaper article, memorized all Canadian medal winners and dreamed of walking into a stadium with the Maple Leaf on my back. As time went on I realized my athletic abilities would not take me to the Olympics but there were many paths to achieve my dream.
As I became a physiotherapist and entered the world of sports physiotherapy I searched out every opportunity to improve my skills and gain experience with a variety of sports.
My first major Games experience came in 2006 when I was part of the medical team at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. I had just completed my Masters in Sports Physiotherapy and volunteered to assist Team Canada at the Games. I didn’t think I would be a full member of the team but I ended up working with the track and field athletes.
Despite having been part of the host medical team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics as well as attending the 2018 Paralympics when my husband was the therapist for sledge hockey, my most memorable moment as a physiotherapist was walking into the stadium in Melbourne with the rest of the Canadian athletes and staff. It was an incredible feeling to walk into a place with 80,000 people cheering while wearing the Canadian uniform.
I was brought back to that moment only a few days ago when Miranda Ayim was named one of Canada’s flag bearers in Tokyo. Not only did I remember my Commonwealth Games experience but I also remembered what Miranda had gone through to reach that point.
In 2010, I was with the Canadian women’s basketball in France prior to the world championships. If my memory serves me correctly, Miranda was sent home just prior to the championships as the last cut on the team. I remember these players because it is such a heartbreaking moment for the athletes. Every year, one or two players were sent home the day before we travelled to world or Olympic qualifiers. Sometimes those players never returned to reach their goal of playing for Canada, but for Miranda it obviously fuelled her to higher places.
Since that year, she has been a regular on our national team and I was so excited to see her named one of the flag bearers. Although, I have not worked with her for many years, she embodies what I think Olympic sport should be. Hard work, perseverance and an incredible passion for her sport.
As we watch Canada’s athletes reach new heights in Tokyo over the next two weeks, think of everything those athletes (and the staff) have been through to reach their Olympic dream.
Cheer loudly for our Brockville athletes, Tim Nedow and Conlin McCabe, and the rest of our Canadian contingent who have put it all on the line to reach the podium.
There is nothing like hearing Oh Canada while representing your country.