The Olympic Experience, Part 2
Well, only about 3 months later, I figured its finally time to sit down and get this out written out…
In the final few days before August 7th, time felt like it went from a snail pace, to warp speed. Training, eating, and recovering were the only important tasks I was focused on. Three days before I raced, I had the amazing opportunity to see my fellow teammates win a Bronze medal in the Women Team Pursuit. And of course, I was very lucky that my family arrived a couple days before my racing. It felt like it had been quite a while since I had last seen them, so being able to relax with them really helped to calm my nerves and get me ready for the big day! They even gave me a sneak peak of the custom VELOCE t-shirts they were going to wear on race day that they had laboured over (Yes, my family goes all out!)
After years of preparation for one race, it was finally here! I woke up early that morning and went to the dining hall as usual. It felt just like a normal day. I went back up to my room, did a quick double check that I wasn’t missing anything in my bag, and rode over to the track. As I started my warmup, the crowds started funneling in, and yep, you guessed it, the Veloce’s were one of the first to arrive! After a quick wave to my ecstatic mother, I was back focused… turning over the legs, getting the blood flowing, and getting my mind ready.
And then, it was time to go. I tightened my shoes, grabbed my gloves and helmet, and walked over to the staging area. I still vividly remember those last few minutes waiting. A few quick words with my coach, drawing my starting position, tightening my helmet, putting on my gloves, and getting to the start line. And that is when it hit me. I was about to represent Canada on the world’s biggest stage, the Olympics. I looked around for a brief moment, took in the cheering crowds, knowing that my family was making the most noise out of anyone else in the building. And then I felt a silence creep in…until a gunshot! And it was off!
Right off the bat, things weren’t going well. A bit of miscommunication between me and my coach had me at the back of the pack. I quickly analyzed the situation, changing tactics accordingly, while still being ready for anything. My legs felt great, and I was ready to go. At 2 laps to go, I saw the move, and fought for the wheel, but it seemed like others had the same strategy as me. I crossed the line in 4th, disappointed, with only the top 2 riders qualifying directly to the next round.
But I still had a chance in the repechage, so I quickly refocused and got myself ready to ride again. After a better start this time around, I was confident that I could pull something off, and finish in the top 3 to qualify for the second round. I knew I had to conserve, and make my move at just the right moment. As we approached the end of the race, I was running out of time to make my move, but I couldn’t find the space to get out of the boxed position I was in. And then as we came out of the last corner, I saw some sunlight. A slight hole had opened up above the rider in front of me. As I started to go for it, the rider in front swung up out of his lane, and closed the door. I was left with no where to go. In the end I finished 4th, and the rider who had swung out of his lane was relagated. And just like that, my Olympics were over, with a 13th place in the Men’s Keirin.
It has taken me some time to really analyze how the Olympics went. I had set high goals for myself, and ultimately didn’t meet them. But looking back the experience I gained was invaluable to my development as a rider. The lessons I learned are just going to help me going forward, not only as I begin preparation for Rio 2016, but in every day life.
With my racing over, I could spend some more time with my family. We spent the first day touring Olympic Park, and admiring what amazing facilities London had built for these games. Then we went to markets, on the London Eye, for a cruise on the Thames, and played tourist, soaking in as much of London as we could.
One very cool part of the Games was the Oakley SafeHouse. My entire family and I would go there just to relax, or to eat some great BBQ’ed food, or to catch some of the ongoing events being displayed on big screens, and of course, Oakley was generous enough to even give us custom Olympic eyewear! Big thanks to Oakley for their hospitality during the Games, and for many great experiences!
And then it was time for the closing ceremonies. We were all sad the Games were coming to a close, but the Canadian Track Cycling team decided to go out with a bang! Design courtesy of Zach Bell, we built a huge maple leaf, out of the ponchos that came in our HBC kit, and a LOT of safety pins. We proudly waved our homemade flag as we marched into the packed stadium, only to find out the disappointing news that the TV cameras didn’t notice it! So for all of you that have not yet seen this beauty, here it is:
None of us could believe how many different acts performed at the ceremony. Just when we thought that was it, another act came on, until the torch was finally extinguished, and passed on to Rio.
The best part of the Olympics for me, was being able to share such an amazing experience with my whole family. It was an event that I’m sure none of us will forget. Having all of you there cheering, Mom, Dad, Elisa, Lucas and Luch, after years of your everlasting love and support, meant the world to me. Without all of you, I would never have been able to even get to the Games in the first place.
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