After the Olympics, I honestly didn't think I would ever use my blog again. I basically made it only to write about my prep for Beijing and to let my friends and family know where I was and what I was going through. When I officially retired I didn't really think there was any point to have it anymore. I still hate saying I retired...I don't think I'm ready to be ok with the idea that I might never compete ever again. I know that I needed to take this year for myself and I would never regret or doubt that decision. It was very clear that my body and mind needed a break from the sport. The injuries alone from the last year and a half plus the pressure I was putting on myself definitely took its toll. It's just weird to say that I retired at 21. I would by lying if I said I didn't miss it. Deep down I loved to train, even when it was taking 40 hours out of my week. There were always good and bad weeks, but it felt so good to be doing something that I loved and that I was good at. It sounds horrible to say that, but it's hard to explain. I guess knowing that you have this crazy confidence when you're in one place and being one person is exhilarating. It's comfortable...it's so safe. Now that I don't spend hours and hours in the gym, I'm thrown into this world where I have to find that feeling somewhere else. It's kind of like finding myself again.
The Toronto Star recently put out this article below and I think it sums up exactly where I am right now...
I have to give a little shout out to SCOTT in the Canadian clinic here at the 08 Beijing Games!!!!
Here's that blog I promised you :)
Ever since I was a little girl my favorite part of every Olympics was getting to watch the Opening Ceremonies. I would always wake up or stay up to watch the entire thing live no matter what. There's just something about it that's so hard to describe. It's a celebration of years of hard work, dedication, passion and commitment. Honestly, it's what dreams are made of. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's true. Thousands of the best athletes from around the world in one place, at one time....pretty incredible. The feeling in the village before it all started was electrifying. Everyone was so pumped up, so ready to go and just so excited. I don't think I have ever looked forward to something more in my life. This time I wasn't sitting at home watching from my couch, but stepping out onto that track in front of millions of people! I can't even tell you how many times I've watched Canada march into the stadium and imagined myself there one day. It was hard to believe that I was actually going to be one of them. As I put on our Opening Ceremonies outfit, I glanced at myself in the mirror and have never been more proud to be Canadian.
Now that it's over it felt like it went by so fast, but in the moment it felt like it would never end. We all got ushered on to these huge buses that took us to the Gymnastics facility where all the countries were filing in to the arena one by one. It was a really long, hot process, but still fun to wait with the whole team. I was so anxious for it to get started I couldn't keep still. I don't think I actually sat down to wait once. I was taking pictures and finding friends from other sports to keep me company. It was kind of cool that we were number 62 to march out this time because Canada in Mandarin characters is extremely different from alphabetical order in english. I thought that was really interesting. It definitely felt like it was hours from when we left the arena until we entered the stadium for the big show. All the countries had to walk outside towards the eggs nest and the sights and sounds coming from the stadium were out of this world. The fireworks display alone was unbelievable. Even though we didn't get to see much of what was going on inside, I wouldn't change the experience for anything. I nearly broke into tears as we were in the tunnel about two minutes away from finally breaking out on to the track and Team Canada started to sing the national anthem. I had pushed my way to the front of the line right behind our flag bearer and could see the entire team behind me singing. There really aren't enough words to describe it.
The actual walk in was unreal. The entire crowd was lit up with cameras. You could see clusters of Canadian cheering sections and our flags waving from the stands. There were just so many people everywhere you turned overjoyed in the moment. It was really beautiful. For a little while it felt like the world was finally at peace. Here we were in China during one of the most political Olympics in the history of the Games and millions of people were coming together in harmony to celebrate sport. It wasn't about medals or performance or even your own country. It was something bigger than all of that. I didn't want it to end. If it was up to me I would've circled that track forever. Once we were all ushered into the center of the stadium, all the countries were mixing together and anxiously waiting to see the Olympic Torch to be lit. That had to be my favorite moment of the night. The Games were officially beginning now. I remember standing there looking up at the flame and just thinking, here we go! It's exciting, nerve racking and surreal.
I am finally here!!!! After all the years of working and waiting for this moment, it's actually happening. It is the craziest thing. I feel like I'm living in a dream right now. Every morning when I look out my 7th floor window over looking the heart of the Olympic Village, I want to pinch myself to make sure I'm actually awake. Am I really here?! I'll be walking to get breakfast or hanging out in the athletes lounge and I'll just have a moment where I realize all over again that I am at the Olympics! It is definitely not a dream.
When we arrived in Beijing and walked out of the airport we were hit hard with the hot, humid air. The smog wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I was more surprised with the temperature. It was boiling! I don't think I will ever complain about the air conditioning being too high in my house ever again. I seriously have a new found appreciation for it. Before we became too uncomfortable in the humidity we were whisked away in a private car to the Olympic Village, where from there the heat was a distant memory. It was the most surreal feeling driving in the Olympic lane through Beijing passing all the new facilities, the stadium and Olympic flags everywhere. When we pulled up to the Village, the COC mission staff were there to get us to our rooms as easily and quickly as possible. I recognize so many of them from the Pan American and Commonwealth Games. It's so great to see familiar faces and share this excitement with so many amazing people. It really is something special.
I could go on and on and on about the Olympic Village and it still wouldn't do it justice. I can hardly find words to explain it. It's basically a mini city in the heart of Beijing. We all live in condo's that have gardens, parks and ponds separating them. There is never nothing to do. The athletes lounge is the most relaxing place in the Canadian section where we can all just go and chill. You meet new people every day and everyone is so friendly. I already signed up for tickets to go watch water polo, swimming and gymnastics. I'm trying to do as much as I can to soak up this amazing experience. It's hard for me to sometimes just go back and sit in my room because I want to be doing something every minute of every day! I don't want to waste any time here, this is what I've been waiting for my whole life. Tomorrow I think some of us are going to have a little Dance Dance Revolution competition in the international athletes building. It's a great way to just unwind and relax after a long day of training or a stressful competition day. So far the village has more than lived up to my expectations. I'm sorry I can't explain it better. When I upload my pictures I will definitely be posting them for all of you to see first hand. Come to think about it I'm going to go and explore a little bit. The village is so huge I have hardly seen half of it! Bye for now :)
The competition in Bulgaria couldn't have been a better preparation for me. Not only did I end up walking away with four bronze medals, but also with stronger confidence in myself and what I was capable of. I was a little hesitant competing on my ankle that has been injured since April, but once I walked off my first routine I knew there was nothing to worry about. My adrenaline, focus and determination washed away the pain those few days and I felt better out on the carpet than I had in a long time. I didn't think twice about the injury and was able to give it my all, not holding anything back. It was the perfect experience to have before heading to the Olympics. I feel so ready to go, which is not always the case before a competition. Every athlete knows when they're not in the best possible shape or didn't have the preparation they needed to have the competition of a lifetime. Throughout my whole career in this sport I have always known myself and how to read what my body was telling me. I definitely know that when I'm not 150% confident I can't perform to the best of my abilities. With confidence comes everything else. I'm sharper, more expressive and powerful. It is a huge difference when I let my nerves get to me. My main goal for the Olympics is to go out there, give it my all and just have fun doing what I love. I don't want to be nervous or hold back anything. This is my moment and I'm going to do everything I can to make it unforgettable.
I was boarding a plane on monday from Toronto to Vienna and realized that the next time I would be taking off I would be heading to China. This week was my last competition before the Olympics and as I sat on that eight hour flight over to Europe I couldn't get that out of my head. Since my injury in April I have been out of the competitive scene until now and knew how important this competition would be for me. It wasn't just another chance for me to be out on that carpet, but a chance to get my confidence up. It was my Olympic practice run. I have been working so hard these past couple of months to be ready for the Games and unfortunately with my ankle I couldn't be competing all this time for practice. So when I arrived here in Varna, Bulgaria I was anxious to get out there in front of the crowd. We did run into a few surprises once we were here though. We ended up making it to the hotel Tuesday night after a very long day and a half of traveling. I flew over with my coach, Mimi, and my teammate, Demi, and we were all exhausted and just wanted to sleep. My coach received the competition schedule right when we walked in and thought there was some sort of mistake. Apparently, the schedule had been changed and instead of competing friday and saturday we would be starting on thursday! We had to train the next day only once coming off 30 hours of traveling and a very jet lagged sleep before we competed. This was definitely not the best news to get the second we got here. Honestly, when things like that happen you just have to roll with it. There was obviously nothing we could do and no sense getting upset about it. Well, I can say that now, but at the time I was pretty upset. I wanted a better preparation than that. The day after any long flights are usually a write off. Your head is not all there, your legs are tired and don't even get me started on jumping. I basically feel like I can't get two feet off the ground, BUT I have to say that when you put something in your head you can do anything. After I was initially a little disappointed about the whole situation I knew I had to have a good practice on wednesday to feel ready to go on thursday. So I really focused all my energy on training well. I'm not going to say it was easy because it wasn't. I didn't feel that great, but I pulled it together and even though we were up at 6:30am running on only a few hours of sleep it went better than expected. My energy was there, which was a nice surprise. I guess my two training camps in Spain and Toronto have really helped get me into shape. The biggest challenge of the day was not falling asleep in the afternoon so I could get a full eight hours at night before the competition. That was the hardest part of the trip. I don't know how we did it, but I think it was all that european coffee in the morning because we managed to make it through the day without fading. So it's the day of my first real competition since April and I am excited and nervous. Wish me luck, I'll let you know how it goes!
A year ago I would've never believed you if you told me I was going to be on the cover of a magazine. Well, as it would happen, this month I'm on the cover of CHATELAINE!!!! I cannot even begin to tell you how crazy that is to me. At first I thought it was pretty cool, but I've done photo shoots and stuff before so I wasn't that excited. Then I got flown out to Montreal for a day for the shoot and met my long time idol Perdita Felicien and the funniest fencer in the world Sherraine Schalm. We had the most amazing day. I don't think I've ever laughed so much in my life. The photographer was definitely starting to lose his patience with us by the end of the day. The best was when he told us to look sexy and we all put on the goofiest faces ever. That was priceless. All three of us had to wear white and got to try on so many designer duds. We were all in heaven. I definitely wore the Prada shoes even though our feet were not in the shot at all. It was probably the coolest thing I've ever gotten to do through my sport and it was in support of all female Canadian athletes. It really couldn't have gotten any better.
I can't believe the last time I wrote was two weeks ago. I have that whole eat, sleep, breathe gymnastics mentality going right now and somewhere along the way I totally neglected my blog. I can honestly say that nothing that exciting has been happening, so you haven't missed anything important. The day after I got back from Spain I started my training camp in Toronto and it was just as intense as I imagined it would be. The only really great part was I had two of my teammates with me, Ali and Demi. Even though we were in the gym every day the time seemed to fly by while they were with me. It's such a different atmosphere training with friends than by yourself. We have all seen each other at our best and worst and no matter what are there for each other. The second I was getting frustrated in the gym, all I had to do was see a huge smile from Demi or a comforting look from Ali and I would instantly feel better. They can read me so well after basically living with each other 24/7 all over the world for weeks at a time. They know my moods and exactly what I'm thinking without even talking to me. They gave me a chance to really enjoy my last training camp in Toronto and not let the pressure get to me. I haven't trained so well and so consistently in the past year than I did these past few weeks. It made me realize just how much I'm going to miss them after this crazy journey is over. After the Olympics I have decided to take the year off so last week was maybe the last time Demi, Ali and I will ever train together. It's really sad to even think about. I know that I will always remember this summer before the Olympics and will always remember the three of us. Thanks for the never ending love and support girls! When I need some extra motivation I know exactly who to come to....
I am so happy I didn't miss the event this year. Even though I was a bit jet lagged from my trip the day before, I wouldn't have missed it for anything. The HBC Run for Canada is on July 1st and it's basically a huge fundraiser for us Canadian amateur athletes. Anyone can come and participate in a 10k run, a 1k kids run and/or a 3k jog/walk down by the lake shore. All the proceeds go to supporting the athletes and this year they raised about $2 million dollars! I don't think I've seen a bigger turnout of supporters and there were a lot of Olympic bound athletes in these very cool personalized shirts helping out all day. I think my favorite part was watching the little kids do their 1k run and giving them their medals afterwards. The competitiveness definitely comes out and there were a few tears shed of course, but it's adorable and I love it.
I had to be up at around 5:45am to get down by the water for 7am, but it was worth it. The day always flies by and it was a lot of fun. It was so great to see so many athletes I hadn't seen in over a year! I was catching up with people that I was at Pan Ams with last July and meeting new athletes from the GTA. We were sharing stories, joking around and supporting all the runners. I find it so funny that none of the athletes run the 10k, but there's really no need to risk injury this year of all years. We just always laugh about it because there are some pretty intense hardcore runners that show up to the event and could probably outrun and outlast us all!
Anyways, I was asked at the end of the day to say a little thank you on behalf of all the athletes and I was very honored to do so. Of course I was pretty nervous to get up in front of the thousands of people that showed up for the day, but it went really well. I don't know why I stress so much before I speak because when I actually get up there you can't shut me up. Funny huh?
My good friend, Ohenewa Akuffo, who just happens to be Canadian Wrestling Champion and Olympic bound as well spent the whole day with me (check us out in my pic). I hadn't seen her since I left for Spain and it was so great to have a little fun outside the gym or the clinic. Thanks for making the Run that much better! See you at the clinic :)
For next year anyone interested in the Run for Canada check out www.hbc.com and come support your athletes!!!! THANKS HBC!
I have to say I was a little sad to leave Marbella last week. We woke up at 4am in the pitch black morning to catch our flight to Paris. There were still tons of people on the streets coming home from their night out and the warm breeze coming off the water made me want to just sit on the beach and watch the sunrise. When we took off it was starting to get light out and there were absolutely no clouds in the sky so I said goodbye to Spain for the last time properly.
So after a long and delayed flight from Paris we got back to Toronto last sunday afternoon and I don't think I even smiled until I came around the corner through customs and saw my mom waiting for me. That's my favorite part of any trip. Coming back from wherever you were and seeing your family or friends standing there because they missed you. It was the perfect homecoming. I noticed her immediately. My mom is a pretty cool lady. She has this awesome Victoria Beckham inspired hairstyle and an everyday killer orange purse (which I absolutely love and want to steal). Let's just say she's pretty noticeable. I hope I get that from her someday.
Anyways, I don't think I've ever talked so much in my life from the airport to our house. I got so excited to see her and I wanted to tell her everything about my trip. I think it hit me that it's July and I leave for Beijing in a month!!!! I have one more little trip and then the next time I pack my bags it's for the Olympics! That is so CRAZY!!! It could be also that after my training camp in Spain I feel like I've improved so much and am really ready to compete. I left all my insecurities and doubts over in Spain that first week and I'm feeling good. I've got my confidence up and am sooo ready to get our there and compete. A few days ago I checked my email and I had one from a good friend of mine Nazmi from Australia who will also be in Beijing with me for Rhythmic. It was one line, "getting excited?". It put the biggest smile on my face. I have never been so excited in my life....nothing could describe it. 30 days to go.....
On the way to the gym this morning, I really opened up to Mimi about some of the pressure I had been feeling lately. Believe me, I am not the type of person that usually talks like this. I think I´m a pretty private person, except with my close friends, and usually keep a lot to myself. My mom is always telling me it´s not good to keep it all inside, but I like to think I can handle everything on my own. That´s just my type of personality I guess. I don´t want to be a burden on other people or have to rely on others so I come off as having this crazy tough as nails persona, especially with my coach. Mimi is constantly telling me to tell her when I´m in too much pain, etc. etc. but I like to think I am invincible. I think most of the time it works in my favour, but there are times when I need to ask for help and I don´t. So here I was reaching out to my coach for some advice. We had an amazing conversation and I was able to get a lot off my chest that had been on my mind for awhile now.
Basically, now that my injury is practically healed and I´m back in the gym with full force I´ve realized that the Canadian and International gymnastics community hasn´t seen me since early April. That is a long time to be off the scene and I started feeling worried that people were doubting my ability to come back from it. I have the most incredible support system ever, but I still had this feeling that there were people out there concerned that I wouldn´t be able to compete well at the Olympics. Honestly, I never doubted for a second that I would be back even stronger for August. Yes it hasn´t been easy, but I´ve never back downed from any challenge that was thrown at me. My coach reassured me that there will always be people who try and put you down or worry that even though you had come through for them before you might not be able to do it this time. It´s sad to me to think that those people are out there, but in the end I know what I have to do and what I´m capable of. I can´t wait to get out there and prove all of them wrong. I think I have an edge walking into the Olympics with being out of the competitive loop these past couple of weeks. No one will know what to expect and I am expecting to blow them all away. Mimi really helped me get rid of all those negative feelings and extra pressure I was putting on myself. She reminded me that it was my first Olympics ever and that will be extremely nerve racking, no matter how physically prepared I am. Whatever happens it will happen for a reason, but she is behind me all the way.
I was talking with my coach, Mimi, yesterday and we were saying how fast these past two weeks have gone by. We were in the car on the way back from the gym and she started talking about packing and I was just like what? The idea of packing everything up again and getting ready to leave hadn´t even crossed my mind. I reassured her that we had so much time left before our flight on monday. So we got home and I just had a feeling to look at my tickets and wouldn´t you know our flight was on sunday not monday!!!! We totally would´ve missed our flight home if I hadn´t checked it! Both of us were laughing so hard at this because it has actually happened to us before. I am sooo relieved we got it all sorted out, but now I only have two days left here in Marbella. I´m a little sad, but happy too. I wish there was more time to do things I wanted to do...aka shopping....but I was here to train and that´s exactly what I did.
It was a really hard trip for me, but pushing through it I´ve come out so much stronger and better prepared for the next couple of weeks heading to Beijing. Mimi totally whipped me into shape, but I needed it badly. I keep saying it, but she is the only coach that can get the best out of me. No matter what, I trust her completely and know that she is going to do everything in her power to have me ready for my first Olympics. We have waited such a long time for this and I know it´s going to be the performance of my lifetime.
Ok I really need to go buy some souvenirs to give to everyone back home....ciao!
So it's day 4 of my training camp in Spain. I woke up this morning and have never been so sore in my life. I really wish I was exaggerating. I had a pretty restless night of tossing and turning and when I woke up I tried to sit up and couldn't. I had to just laugh because it took me about twenty minutes to try and find some way to get out of bed in the least possible amount of pain. Sore doesn't even begin to describe it. It was one of those mornings where you debate with yourself if you really have to get out of bed at all. I felt like not moving one inch all day, but when I heard my coach putting the coffee on I snapped back to reality. I had to leave for training in half an hour so there was really nothing else to think about. I had breakfast on the patio and honestly I give the sun total credit for taking away any pain I had. I couldn't resist taking a picture and showing you the breathtaking view from this morning. It was hard to leave it, but I'm thinking I'm having my coffee out on the patio every morning from now on.
Besides the soreness, training has been going really well out here. I'm so happy to be back with my coach Mimi. She just knows me so well as a person and an athlete and we're definitely getting the best out of each other. The days are long and hard, but nothing I'm not ready for. I literally just got back from training so I think I'm going to jump into an ice bath and hopefully tomorrow I'll have a more pain free wake up call.
I'm flying out to Spain today to see my coach and I'm really excited. My coach, Mimi, has been living out in Europe since October and it's been a huge life change for me. For the past ten years I have worked with my coach every single day here in Toronto. I grew up and matured as a gymnast with her watching by my side. So when she had to take a contract out in Spain for an amazing coaching position I obviously supported her. It is a difficult life for coaches in Rhythmic Gymnastics here in Canada and she had to do what was right for her and her family. Long story short, she moved out there and I was faced with this huge decision. Should I move to Spain to be with her? I know it sounds like a no brainer, but it took me a really long time to decide. There were so many factors that went into it for me, it was far from easy. To move to Spain sounds so glamorous and fun, but I had to remember about everything I would be giving up if I left. I had my family, friends, university education....my whole life. Could I really leave it all behind?
In the end, I couldn't leave Toronto and we came up with a plan to make sure my preparation for Beijing didn't suffer. Basically, I fly back and forth so I can train with Mimi, but still be in school back home and not lose who I am and my life back in Canada. I love it out in Spain and it's always such an amazing experience for me as a gymnast and a person, but the first time I came back home I realized Mimi wasn't with me and on monday I would be starting up with a new coach for the first time in my career. It was pretty nerve racking I'm not going to lie. When you've worked with one person for so long, it's a scary feeling to not know what to expect when you head to the gym. I have to say though that it's been the best and most beneficial thing for me at this time in my life. So many coaches here in Ontario come to my trainings and want to help me with my preparation. Now I always have fresh eyes on me at practice in Toronto giving me new feedback and ideas and I push myself even harder in Spain when I know I only have limited time with Mimi. I have become so much more independent and able to take criticism from all different coaches and use it to my advantage. It feels like I have the whole Canadian gymnastics community trying to get me in the best shape possible for the Games, which is a pretty cool feeling to have.
So I'm going to be boarding a plane in a few hours and am really looking forward to the next two weeks with Mimi. I know it's going to be hard, I know it's probably going to be the hardest training camp of my life, but I still can't wait for it. I'm so ready to get the best out of me and on those bad days I'll just keep Beijing in my head and battle through....
I can't even tell you how good it feels to be back in the gym. I never thought I would ever say I missed training, but I did. I can't describe to you how frustrating it is to sit at home, knowing that all you can do for yourself is stay off your feet. I am definitely not used to having time to just lie around the house, but that's exactly what I had to do with my injury. Knowing that all my competitors were working themselves like crazy, while I was doing nothing was the hardest thing for me. I felt completely helpless, it was awful. Everyone was telling me to just stay calm, wait it out, rest, ice and elevate, but that's a lot easier said then done. The second my ankle started feeling better I wanted to go back to the gym and see what I could do, but my doctor and I both knew that I would push it too hard so I had to keep waiting. We wanted to make absolute sure the ligaments were strong enough to handle what I was going to do to them lol
So after a very long month of complete stir craziness I was back at training two weeks ago and I've never felt so good. It's a hard road to get back into shape after taking so much time off, but when is anything easy? I'm more motivated, more energetic and more driven then I was before my injury and am feeling like my old self again which always puts a smile on my face. It was so tough for me to face an injury so close to the Games and I let it get me down a few times, but looking back on it now I am so fortunate it happened when it did. There was still enough time to get ready for Beijing and maybe my body was giving me a sign that it really needed a break. Not the best way to tell me, but everything happens for a reason.
After two weeks of being more careful then I would like in the gym, I'm totally confident in my abilities and what my ankle can handle now. I feel good and am running the events I'll be competing with in August now. I think my stamina is the hardest thing to get back, but I know that comes with time. It's always the worst to build up for me, but I keep telling myself that if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger. It's just being able to push through that initial pain and fatigue...if you can get through that in one piece you're good to go. Some days I've wanted to tell my coach that I just couldn't do it anymore, but I never do and I can always find the energy you never thought was in you to keep going. So no matter how bad you think it is, it feels so much better to get past it then let it get to you. I'm always so disappointed afterwards when I'm easier on myself or don't put my all into practice. So yeah you've saved some energy, but did you get better? Probably not. My coach always used to tell me if you show up not giving 150% in the gym then it's not even worth it and you should've just stayed at home. I guess that stuck with me...
I had no idea what to expect when UofT contacted me and wanted me to be in their Summer issue of the Alumni Magazine. The interview was pretty standard, but I was really surprised to hear that they wanted to set up a professional photo shoot for the issue. I met up with an amazing photographer, the one and only Chris Wahl, and I had the most fun on a shoot ever. We spent hours switching up poses, outfits, hairstyles, facial expressions (that was hilarious) and I got to show the real me. I love and so rarely get to take more laid back shots with my hair down and in training clothes so I couldn't have been happier when I got the magazine this week. The competition suits we have to perform in are so not sporty and I think this type of picture captures my personality perfectly. So thanks Chris for making me beautiful and UofT for including me in the Alumni Magazine this summer!!!!
I just got home from Nationals in Montreal and for the first time ever I was just a spectator. My 12th National Championships and I was sitting in the stands. It's honestly really hard for me to even write that let alone say it. I never thought it would affect me like this. As I sat there, surrounded by all these families and friends, I realized what life is like on the other side and I did not like it. Don't me wrong, I loved watching the girls and cheering on my teammates, but I wanted to be one of them not just another fan. I never thought that being on the sidelines just this once in my career would upset me so much. It's not about defending my title or the attention, but missing out on that feeling I get in front of a home crowd; That adrenaline pumping through me while I'm performing just for the pure love of my sport and nothing else. Internationally, the stakes are higher, there is more pressure and you don't have the support of a community that has watched you grow and mature since you were a little girl. I have been competing for Canada since I was 9 years old and I will cherish the memories I have had at every Nationals forever.
The competition over last weekend was held in the Olympic park Stadium where ironically enough I won my first National Title at 11 years old. It was a very emotional weekend you could say the least. As I watched the younger athletes compete, I saw myself out there. It was the strangest feeling. I couldn't help but reminisce about the past. The last twelve years of my life all of a sudden felt like they had flown by and here I am two months away from the Olympic Games.
If I hadn't been working towards making the Olympics since I was a little girl maybe I would've risked competing on an injury. But the past couple of weeks I've been struggling with a torn ligament in my ankle and it's just not the year to risk anything, even though I wanted to so bad. As I'm writing this now my ankle is almost back to 100% and I'm in the gym pushing myself as usual. Well, technically I'm supposed to be taking it easy, but that's just not how I train. If I'm in the gym, I'm there to work. From my own experience, whenever you're cautious and thinking too much about not getting hurt in the gym, you always do. I think I'm old enough and hopefully mature enough to know my body and know when it's telling me to stop. And if by any chance I'm just being myself and pushing too hard, my coach is always there to tell me to calm down! Which funnily enough, happens more often than not.
So even though it was incredibly difficult for me to watch this years Nationals go by, I couldn't be more proud of my teammates and all the gymnasts that competed over the weekend. I wanted to congratulate each and every one of them for going out there and giving it their all. I am extremely jealous that I couldn't be among them, but in the end it made me more motivated to get out there and compete the next time. Thanks girls!
A former Canadian Olympian, Alison Korn, contacted me a few days ago to do an interview. She now writes a great weekly column on amateur sports for the Toronto Sun. I was so honoured that she chose to write last weeks column on me! So here is the link, you should check this one out too!
For some reason I thought that if I qualified for the Olympics my life would all of a sudden be perfect. No stress, no drama, no negativity....just perfect. I couldn't be more wrong. So yes I qualified and it was beyond amazing, hands down the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life, but it has been anything but perfect since. I think I tried so hard all year before qualifiers to not get sick, not get injured, not get distracted... you get the idea....that the second I let myself breathe normally again my body kind of crashed. Long story short, I was competing and rolled my ankle really bad a few weeks ago. It was the scariest moment of my career. I honestly thought I had broken my ankle and I can't even describe the pain to you if I tried. All the doctors in Europe said I had to be off it, so they sent me back home and kept me out of the gym for a few weeks. I don't know why, but at the beginning I thought it was better that no one really knew about it. I didn't want anyone feeling bad for me or worrying. I didn't want anyone doubting, even for a second, that I would be fine. I think it was a way of telling myself that nothing was wrong and I was fine. So I came home from europe, a little scared, but ready to do whatever I had to do to get better. I've had the best medical team working on me every single day and an injury that should've taken 12 weeks to heal has taken 4! Right now I'm almost 100% and am so excited to be back in the gym on monday. I miss it so much. I never thought I would be so frustrated to be resting for once and not training like a crazy person, but I really am. I want to be in the gym so bad I don't know what to do with myself. I knew that I had to be patient with the injury and not push it. The main goal has been and still is the Olympics and that's all that matters this year to me. Everything I do, everything I work for is for those three days in August. I can't be more fortunate to have such an incredible support system behind me. The medical clinic has become my second family, my friends are doing everything they can to keep me positive and healthy and my family family have never left my side. I couldn't ask for anything more to get me through this...
Wow I can't believe it's May 22nd already. I feel like I wrote my last blog a few days ago and it's been almost two weeks. I don't know where the time has gone. I looked back through my agenda, which is HUGE because if I don't write everything down I would never remember anything, and saw that every single day I've really been booked solid. I'm not used to not having my down time. When I'm training throughout the season and doing my thing, I'm all over the world and back again and always give myself that time to do absolutely nothing. It's a totally different time in my life right now though, with the Olympics only two and a half months away. I am getting so excited and the media and just simple exposure opportunities keep on coming in and I can't turn them down. This is a once in a life kind of thing for me and I want to experience it all. But it obviously doesn't come without a price. I am tired. When you're tired before you even have to go to training, it's not the best thing. I know I want it all and because of that I just suck it up and battle through it, but it's been challenging the past two weeks. For the first time in a long time, I am actually back in Toronto for over a month and my family and friends couldn't be happier and more supportive. Being the person I am, I want to spend as much time with them as I can and am finding it difficult to "do it all". I'm slowly realizing that these last few weeks before heading to China I'm going to have to make some changes. I think as much as I don't want to I'm going to have to make some sacrifices, which I'm sure everyone will understand. I would never even think twice about this usually, but this summer is so different. A lot of things are changing in September when I get back and I want to make the most of this experience before that happens. I am stressing a little bit that I have a course project due tomorrow and a final exam on monday to finish off my third year at UofT, but I think once I get through that I'll have some weight lifted off my shoulders. I should probably get off the computer and start getting ready for another crazy day, but I quickly just wanted to give my best friend Caye a HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY BEAUTIFUL!!! Welcome to your 20's (officially now). Much love hun.
On May 1st the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) launched the new Olympic clothing line for the Canadian Team heading to Beijing this summer. I was really excited to see what they had come up with for all of us especially since I had seen a few pieces before the big preview. A couple of months ago I got an amazing opportunity to be one of the 'models' for HBC's new Ad campaign for the Olympic line. They chose about 15 Canadian athletes from all different sports to be involved and not only did we get to experience a real photo shoot, which was really cool, but we got to see some of the new items too. Just from a few pieces I knew the line was going to be a really different, dramatic look and I thought it was perfect for these Games. We want to come out as a country looking strong, unique and powerful and I knew the designers would deliver for us. So May 1st rolls around and Canadians got a glimpse of what Team Canada is going to look like in august. Honestly, I can't be more shocked at people's reactions. Obviously not everyone is going to like it, but I think it's getting a little out of hand. I opened the newspaper the next day and read a huge article about how horrible the outfits are. I don't know about you, but I seriously think the line is a really powerful statement for Canadian athletes. The pieces aren't plain or boring, but full of life and truly represent our multiculturalism. They make us proud to be Canadian and show our competitors we won't go unnoticed. The designs use a chinese influence because the Games are in Beijing! I read a hilarious comment on the internet from a woman who thinks that people are going to mistake us for China and not Canada. How is that even possible? I think everyone loves to be a critic, but doesn't realize all that goes into designing for our athletes. We don't want just red and white simple items that look ordinary, we want clothes that are going to stand out. Personally, I can't wait to get it all when I arrive in Beijing and I am going to wear it proudly. Thanks HBC for doing a great job, we're going to look amazing over there. All our athletes need to feel we have the support of our country behind us, especially now with the Games so close. I understand if you don't like the line, but it can't be changed so why not talk about how great our athletes are going to do instead of what they're wearing.
Welcome to the first blog ever from yours truly. As I'm sure you already know, my name is Alexandra Orlando, but I've always just gone by alex. Besides my grandma, who pronounces it Alessandra, which I love, everyone else knows me simply as alex. I do have some wonderful friends of mine who love to annoy me by calling me by my full name, but they never can keep it up for too long. And believe me if my mom uses it I know I'm in trouble. Which doesn't happen too often now that I'm all grown up and moving out (this is where my mom would start to cry). It's funny though because in the Rhythmic Gymnastics (RG) world I'm only known as Alexandra. It's almost like another persona I have or maybe it's like a part of my game face I put on when I arrive at a competition. Whatever it is, to me it sounds so professional...formal even...which I think really helps put me in that right state of mind out there on the carpet. Now don't get me wrong I love my name, but since all my friends and family call me alex I thought you obviously should too...you're going to be getting to know a whole lot more of me as this goes on so let's throw out all the formalities right now. With me, what you see is definitely what you get...
I really hope you know what you've gotten yourself into because I'm going to be experiencing the most incredible, life changing next couple of months. In 96 days I will officially be a Canadian Olympian and you will be with me every step of the way. I hope you enjoy this crazy journey I'm about to drag you along on...I know I will!
I couldn't be more excited to share this with all of you. It means the world to me to have your support. I would love to hear from you as well so please write to me (and let me know if I'm doing a horrible job at blogging or something lol).