My focus during this part of the season is typically in the individual events. I try to compete a ton to get in the quality work that will have me ready for full pentathlon's. This has been one of the privileges of the sport as I've been adopted in so many different sport communities. Two weeks ago I was in Edmonton for a track meet, which is where I am departing from today after another meet. In between I was in Portland for a fencing tourney. All very cool experiences. I am running well, after 5 events in 14 days, I am happy with 4 of them.
I fenced well last weekend, although I didn't finish as high as I'd hoped. My losses in pools were all by one point, and in a strong field like that, I can live with it (98/238 - North American Cup). I'll do a couple swims at a meet Sunday and then let my body recover. I feel good and I've been happy with how I've lined up training and events. The Olympic Oval in Calgary has been awesome allowing me to shoot on the track, so I can do combined work with the shoot. This is advantageous to replicate more closely what competition is like. Yesterday I ran a lifetime second best time in the 1000m so I'm pumped about this. I didn't follow it up with a good 1500m today though so that's left me pretty hungry. Sport for me has always been about finding a balance between enjoying success as often as possible (which is really rare in reality) against a reasonable amount of failure so that the desire to push further is strong. If it's too easy, or too hard, it likely isn't fun, whatever the activity is. It's a pleasure to come to this meet where every Western Canadian university team (except the Bisons), along with top clubs is racing and to see the quality of athletes. A number of whom are also vying for a place in London. Having said that, Portland was the same. The winner, Cody Maatern, is a 2004 Olympian and there were a number of other athletes there fighting for advancement in the sport. Awesome to be a part of it, and to watch a bit as well, especially in events I do not understand.... women's sabre, pole vault??? Awesome to feel connected and cheer but have no ability whatsoever to do it.
Speaking of the awesomeness of sport, I was reminded further after visiting a school a few weeks ago. I have a had a great winter so far, dropping in to probably 10 schools. Lots of kids to connect to. Some have been excellent. The odd school is difficult because kids aren't interested or teachers haven't prepared them. Strangely it is rarely the less privileged schools who are a tough audience. They are often so pleased to have someone in to specifically spend time with them... Or maybe they are just happy to miss math class. I like to think it's me. What struck me last week though was just how elitist sport is. I always shied away from that comment as I felt it degraded my efforts. Which is a bit insecure I suppose. I think most athletes like to maintain an idea that we are good/great/the best at what we do because we are taking on the best of what's out there. Obviously this isn't quite true. Accepting this (at least for me) doesn't reduce my efforts or achievements as an athlete, but it does provide an opportunity to realize that few people get the privilege to participate in sport uninhibited. There are many limitations along the way, some that I lived through as a child when my family faced true fear of removal from the middle class and as an early national team athlete with essentially no funding. As I interacted with kids at a Marlborough school recently, I recognized how powerful sport is but how many are unable to participate, especially immigrants. I asked which kids had been to the Olympic Oval, and of 70, 3 had. For sure I must have stuttered or wasn't asking the question correctly. So I asked again using what I thought was an even bigger site - Canada Olympic Park. These are legacy facilities, inexpensive or free to visit, less than 20 km from this neighbourhood. NOT ONE CHILD HAD VISITED COP. I was taken aback and a little embarrassed I asked the question. What's the lesson learned? I think it's to encourage participation as much as I/one can (which is a big part of the Youth Education thru Sport, YES, program). The federal tax credit for kids sport is good, although I sense that many immigrant's do not understand it exists. Perhaps part of the lesson is to donate to KidSport, which are located across Canada and promote participation for under-privileged kids. I wish I knew the answer beyond that. What I am confident of, is if we lose this cohort of kids, they won't have the same amazing experiences that sport brought me, and most likely, you as well.
Thoughts are with Sarah Burke. Thank you for checking in on the journey. J.