Wednesday, December 30, 2009

At a loss for words...

It's an awful day when you wake up hearing about someone's death. Especially, when a tragic accident took the life of such an incredible person so quickly. I met Kelly Pace only a few weeks ago at a good friend's birthday party. She stood out in the room right away with her infectious smile. I only spoke with her briefly, but what I will always remember is her birthday toast to Jane. Her genuine warmth, love and compassion for another strong, powerhouse woman was beautiful. She seemed like an amazing friend and woman, someone I would have liked to have gotten to know. When I heard of her car accident I couldn't believe it. A few days ago she was standing next to me laughing and catching up with old friends. A few days ago she was celebrating a life that was still only getting started. Things can change so suddenly it's a reminder to us all. I couldn't say it better than Jane herself...

"Today is the funeral of an amazing woman Kelly Pace. She was 41 and in a tragic car accident. In minutes your life is changed forever. As 2009 comes to an end and we make resolutions for 2010. One request from me if you read this- be grateful you are alive, tell your loved ones "who they are" to you, play, contribute... to others, know who you are in the world, love yourself. Life is so very precious."

My thoughts and prayers go out to you and her family Jane.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

sick AND tired

The one thing I hate more than anything is being sick. I can handle being tired.....I can handle being exhausted.....honestly I can even handle walking around like a zombie as long as I'm healthy. My immune system has never been amazing, but I would never get beyond that kind of uncomfortable cold thing. I will do whatever I can to avoid being bed ridden. Staying in bed all day when you're just having one of those incredibly lazy, I'm going to watch movies, and not get out of my pjs day is one thing. Feeling so awful you can't even sleep when you're stuck in bed is completely another.

Two weeks ago I got more sick than I've been in years. My whole body ached, I couldn't even lift my head and I was completely out of commission. I had just gotten back from Vancouver, hadn't even seen my roommate and I did not come out of my room for about 36 hours. It was so bad that yes at 22 years old I called my mom to come and make sure I was ok. I had no groceries (as always), nothing even to drink besides water and was so incapacitated that my mom came all the way downtown to make me feel better. Feeling like I was 12 again was possibly the funniest thing ever, but I absolutely loved it. Lately I've been so independent and off doing my own thing, feeling invincible as I like to think I am, that I forget what it feels like to have someone take care of me. To be honest, I like to believe that I don't need anyone to take care of me. I don't know where that comes from...could be from being surrounded by such strong women. Whatever it is, I finally let myself ask for help and it felt good. After some good Orlando loving I was thankfully back to normal.

So you can imagine how upset I was when yesterday I was losing my voice and started to feel a little under the weather. I tried to ignore it and blame it on over working myself, etc. etc. BUT this morning I woke up with a crazy high fever. I AM SICK AGAIN! I am so sick and tired of this. What are the odds of getting so sick again in less than two weeks? I was not impressed that I had to cancel my plans and stay inside all day....again. I have so much work to do (school and work work) that I can't afford to take a day off....which is exactly what I had to do. I'm mad that my body is not as strong as I want it to be. I'm mad that I'm sitting here feeling awful when I could be out doing a million things.

So beyond frustrated right now.....

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Power in Sport

Instead of writing up a summary of the AthletesCAN Forum and sending it out to the Gymnastics Community, I thought of something better. My teammate Lauren Adolph, one very passionate young woman, wrote about her experience at Forum to help inspire our athletes. As their athlete rep, I feel like I'm always sending out emails to them, but coming from a recently retired teammate of theirs it might make more of an impact. I absolutely loved her letter and hope you all do too....

To all Members of the Canadian Gymnastics National Team,

Last weekend I attended the most amazing and life-altering event of my life! Now, I know that’s a cliché and you’re probably thinking, “well, she’s a bit over the top,” (those who know me would probably add that I easily leap to such dramatics when confronted by sport intermingled with inspiration). This week has been nonstop “Oh Lauren, how was your weekend? What did you do again?” So then I’d explain, but some audiences just didn’t get it. This weekend, I think I could say with some certainty that the name of the game (no pun intended) was “How to affect real change.” So you can imagine the response I got from those who were, let’s say, “youthfully challenged.” I am coming to the sad realization that the word ‘change’ is stolen on one’s 30th birthday and there are only a handful of people willing to fight for it back. So now that I have confessed my bias on the subject, I would like to recount just the facts (without embellishment) so you can see for yourself. So here is my ode to AthletesCAN Forum 2009.

Each morning started with an hour of yoga and went right into an amazing (oh, sorry no adjectives) breakfast. We then entered the Delta Hotel Richmond’s ballroom where we began a day of super fascinating presentations. The first speaker was the President of AthletesCAN, who answered my burning question: “What is AthletesCAN?” It is the only independent organization that represents senior national team athletes across Canada. They are the people, who have brought you the Bell Mobility cell phone plan, Sport Solutions (free legal representation for sport related issues), and a strong voice with such organizations as CCES (Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport – you’ll know these folks intimately if you’ve ever had to pee in a cup?), and Sport Canada. They are willing to take the blunt end of any argument with GCG that might otherwise cause you, as a current national team member, severely negative political repercussions. They are full of information on issues relevant to you – including the latest anti-doping laws and carding rules – and how AthletesCAN has a voice in funding policy. After three years on National Team, I had never heard of AthletesCAN nor realized what a great resource it could be; thanks to Alex Orlando, who currently serves on the AthletesCAN board, for enlightening me and now you.

We heard next from a panel of three outstanding speakers. All shared their stories of how, as an elite athlete, they learned to survive, find a balanced life, and succeed in retirement. To my utter joy these speakers, no matter their sports background, were repeating my life’s journey, but with the added wisdom I would have died for during my career. It is also worth noting that these people I had so much in common with were Olympic athletes… gold medal Olympic athletes…three time Olympic athletes… and our own Alexandra Orlando. I’m not sure how much more amazing one weekend can be, but there was more.

Then our afternoon was filled with workshops directly aimed at improving the efficiency of National Athlete Representatives. Problems discussed were insufficient on ineffective athlete representation on National Sports Organizations (NSOs) Boards; in many cases where athlete reps are members of NSO Boards, their opinions are ignored, as their presence is seen as purely symbolic.

We would sit around roundtables, diligently compiling practical life strategies for making headway with our power hungry Boards. And I would glance at all the right hands scribbling notes or tapping thoughtfully, when I noticed 90 percent of those hands were wearing a heavy gold ring embossed with the Olympic rings.

So this is what I got out of my weekend (besides being awe-inspired by these giants of sport): I believe in the power of sport. I learned that sport can change our health, our communities, the way we connect with each other; sport develops forward-thinking leaders, promotes responsible citizenry, prevents crime, inspires kids to think more, dream more, be more. In the words of one of the participants, a Paralympic gold-medal swimmer, “It is our responsibility as elite athletes to dare youth to be fearless to dream.”

My hope is to inspire you to believe that real change is possible. Through utilizing your athlete rep and AthletesCAN – who only exist to serve you – you can have a voice. Only you know what’s relevant. Otherwise, it’s like having a new Ferrari F430 in the garage, but no map. You can roar around the block a few times, make lots of noise to impress the neighbours, but you never really get anywhere.

I share this with you in the hope that you speak up, share your challenges and concerns, and are ultimately free to focus on what an elite athlete should: training hard, staying healthy and reaching your goals.


Lauren Adolph
Retired Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team Member
“I believe in the power of sport”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Canadian Club

A few weeks ago I received these emails about this event at the prestigious Canadian Club and marked it in my calendar. I really wanted to go because I thought it was a really great idea on behalf of the Pan Am Bid. The Canadian Club of Toronto will host a discussion about the benefits of holding the Pan / Parapan Am Games in Toronto in 2015 led by a panel consisting of David Peterson, Chair, Toronto 2015 Pam Am Games Bid, Chris Rudge, Secretary General and CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Jagoda Pike, President and COO of the Toronto 2015 Bid. The discussion will be moderated by legendary Canadian rower and Olympian Marnie McBean.

So I got my ticket and I was really looking forward to hearing what the panel had to say. Two days before the event, Jagoda had to fly down to Ecuador leaving the Bid in a tight spot. I got a call from Bob Richardson, who is the communications and PR mastermind for us, and was asked to fill in. I of course couldn't say no, this was one of the biggest opportunities that I've ever had come my way. I was excited, nervous, but ready to speak my mind in front of a roomful of people that would be hanging on our every word. This was so important and I couldn't believe that I was going to be up there.

The event was yesterday and it went so well. I spoke from the heart, with passion, and that's all I can do. It was amazing and I hope people caught it on the Rogers Channel (it will be replayed throughout this week!).

Check out this article and VIDEO of the panel at the Canadian Club of Toronto yesterday!

http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2009/10/17/11432411-sun.html#/news/torontoandgta/2009/10/17/pf-11432411.html

Friday, October 16, 2009

Commonwealth Games Canada Announces Delhi 2010 Mission Staff

OTTAWA, Oct. 8, 2009 – Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC) today announced its Mission Staff for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi, India, October 3-14, 2010 – and celebrated the commitment to sport of its motivated volunteers.

“This outstanding group will help us create the right conditions for Canadian athletes and coaches to produce best-ever performances,” said Scott Stevenson, CGC’s Director of Sport. “The Commonwealth Games are a proven, valuable stepping-stone for many Canadian athletes en route to other international, Olympic and Paralympic success.”

The Games will feature more than 4,000 world-class athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories, competing in 19 different sports. Canada, which finished third overall at the 2006 Games in Melbourne, Australia, is expected to send a highly competitive team of approximately 400 athletes, coaches, and volunteers.

“On behalf of the Commonwealth Games Canada leadership team, we are delighted with the selection of these capable Canadians to our team,” said Martha Deacon, Chef de Mission for Team Canada 2010. “A year from now, their passion and enthusiasm will contribute in countless ways to the success of our world-class athletes.”

The Mission Staff will work under the guidance of the Mission Team Leaders, whose appointment was announced in April 2009. Chef de mission Martha Deacon, named in November 2008, will head the team.

“Every time Canada mounts a mission to a major Games, the demands and expectations increase,” said Greg Mathieu, Chief Executive Officer of Cycling Canada. “This Mission Staff has the capacity, energy and experience necessary to ensure Canada’s team in New Delhi has the highest level of support which is reassuring to each National Sport Organization participating in these Games.”

Joanne Mortimore, Chief Executive Officer of Athletics Canada, added: “It is reassuring to see the Mission Staff who have been appointed to 2010 Games. The group clearly has the skills to create the best environment for the team to compete at their best in Delhi.”

Mission Staff for the 2010 Commonwealth Games

Operations: Martin Routhier and Anne Warburton (Administration), Jim Bradley and Yvonne Bierman (Transportation); Sue Boreskie and Suzanne Weckend (Clothing); Shravan Chopra (Technology and Webmaster)

Team Member Support and Services: Todd Allison, Monique Allain, ALEXANDRA ORLANDO :)

Communications: Yan Huckendubler, Patrick Kenny, Martin Richard, Julie Audette, Hélène Lavigne (Translator), Dan Galbraith (Photographer)

Coaching and Applied Sport Science: Lisa Smith, Michel LeBlanc, Shelley Milton

Mission Team Leaders for the 2010 Commonwealth Games

Dr. Jon Kolb – Coaching and Applied Sport Science
Dr. Navin Prasad – Health and Wellbeing (Medical)
Kelly Laframboise – Team Operations
Jackie DeSouza – Communications and Media Services
Michael Smith – Team Member Support and Services

RyanDan Concert



One of my closest friends and my miracle healer during all those hard years of injuries, Farhan Dhalla, gave me the greatest surprise recently. A year ago he gave me this incredible CD for Christmas that really touched my soul. When I first heard RyanDan, I was mesmerised by the power and beauty of their voices. Their lyrics are so real and genuine, I felt an instant connection. Whenever life got too much to handle and I needed a quick break from reality I would turn to them. Closing the blinds in my room, blasting RyanDan and curling up with a blanket was my go-to stress reliever technique. When I found out he got us tickets to their concert in Richmond Hill I was ecstatic! To make the evening that much better, Farhan hooked us up with a meet and greet before the show with Ryan and Dan! We were both so nervous it was hilarious. I was definitely a little star struck, but they were so down to earth and approachable. You never would have known that they were about to go out and sing for hundreds of people. It was an amazing evening. We sat in the 2nd row and could feel the vibrations of the music running through us. Honestly, it was hard not to cry at one point. I just became flooded with emotions. I don't know if it was the lyrics or their voices or just dealing with a lot lately and needed a release, but whatever it was it was an amazing night. Thank you so much Farhan, I owe you more than you know.

Much love
xo

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The International Olympic Academy

It is so difficult to try and put into words what I experienced at this year’s International Olympic Academy. There are so many moments and emotions that I wish could be conveyed to you in words, but it is indescribable. I really did not know what to expect as I got on the plane to Greece this June. The IOA far exceeded any expectations I had. I can’t thank the Canadian Olympic Committee enough for selecting me out of so many deserving candidates. I am so fortunate to have been given this once in a lifetime opportunity. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My IOA experience taught me so much about myself and what I value most in life. As a Canadian and a competitive athlete, I can honestly say that I have never been exposed to an Olympic Education program. I knew what the Olympic Movement was, but I didn’t know how it touched the lives of other Canadians and what institutions were in place to keep it moving forward. The IOA showed me the type of programs that are in place all over the world that inspire me to help improve our own Canadian Olympic Education. I learned how passionate I am about this particular field and that I believe in Olympism as a way of life. I learned that it is not just about sports, but so much more. Olympism is a way to improve all humanity and helping to achieve a peaceful more unified world. I came home with a new outlook on life and the values that I hold. I learned how important Olympic Education is to build a stronger nation and the positive consequences that come from it.

I believe that the most important information that we received to benefit our Canadian Olympic Committee was successful applications of Olympic Education. In many nations, Olympic Education is built directly into the school system starting at a very young age. It is not just a theme that arises every two years for one class or one particular ‘Olympic’ day. These are yearlong programs that include the history of the Olympic Games, Olympism, political movements and the variety of amateur sports. These Education Programs teach students values and morals that will affect them in every area of their life and bring out their full potential. Integrating more national level athletes into the programs on a more regular basis is seen in other countries as well. The key difference I saw between Olympic Education programs across the world depended on how highly the government and its people value sport. Olympic Education is the beginning to changing how our nation views amateur sports and what it has to offer our citizens. It should not just be applied within the school system, although that is an excellent start. The Olympic Movement needs to touch every single person, no matter what age. Community programs and events focused on amateur sports and our athletes as role models can strengthen support for the Olympic Movement. With increased government support, Olympic Education can touch every Canadian.

KINGS OF LEON CONCERT

So I've had a little bit of a love affair going on now for the past two years. I lose myself in the moment when I hear their voices and will literally jump at any chance to see them live. This past summer I was working at Sport Alliance of Ontario and we shared such a fun office with KidSport. I was so lucky to have met Leigh there, who is the most genuine person I've met in a really long time. So when she came to me with Kings of Leon tickets in Hamilton, after only knowing me for two months, I literally almost died. There's is something about their music that just hits me to the core. Their lyrics, their sound, their soul....incredible. If you don't know who Kings of Leon are then please I urge you to check them out.

Here is one of my favorite songs of theirs....I apologize if you can hear me singing in the background....but there's always this one person that I think of and you know who you are that when I hear it I just smile...


video

THANKS LEIGH I LOVE YOU LADY!
xo

Friday, September 25, 2009

OLYMPIC REFORM CONFERENCE

Someone once told me that to be your best, you had to be confidant. If you doubted yourself, you were holding back so much of what you could really be without even realizing it. When I was competing, I dreaded those days when I knew I wasn't ready. I knew that I wasn't where I should be, mentally...physically...you name it. It's such an indescribable feeling, but it's awful. People who know me, know that I'm a confidant person, but I definitely have those nervous, self conscious moments too. When I was asked to be a panel speaker on Athletes' Rights and Representation for an Olympic Reform Conference this year at the University of Toronto I was incredibly honored and excited. When I got off the phone with Dr. Bruce Kidd, Dean of Physical Education and Health at the University, I squealed for probably the second time in my whole life and then my stomach dropped. I had never done this before. I know what I believe in, but now I would be voicing that opinion in front of some of the most influential people in our sporting community and the media. I wasn't just an overzealous athlete with dreams of a better international sport system anymore, this was serious. I would have the chance to not only state my beliefs, but criticize our Olympic governance and make recommendations for the future. When I first began writing my notes I hit that wall. That what if everyone takes one look at me and wonders what this young girl is doing there wall. It took me a few drafts, but I gained that confidence to stand up in front of all those people and make them listen to me. It was empowering in such a different way than I was used to and am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to speak.

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Here are some of my favorite parts of what's been on my mind lately...

My main goal has always been to increase awareness among the athletes. Most of them don’t even know their rights as a national team member, or what kind of decisions are being made without their knowledge. I believe that NSOs can often easily start functioning like a business, pushing themselves further and further from an athletes’ centered organization. So without truly even defining the role of your own athlete representative at the Board level its easier to keep this position more as a figurehead instead of being an active athlete member that can effect change. Without an active and powerful athlete body within the IOC, COC or any other governing bodies such as NSOs and Bid Committees, vital decisions are being made that significantly impact athletes without them. The athletes actually don’t have any input at all on the decisions that are greatly affecting their lives. Even with athlete representation within the IOC, COC and NSOs at the Board level, I feel that there are problems with their actual effectiveness. When decisions are being voted on in various governing bodies, even with athlete representation, in reality their voice is completely ignored because it comes in the form of one vote or a certain number that wouldn’t be able to challenge the decision anyways. At the IOC level, there are only so many athlete representative members. So how can they really make a difference? I honestly don’t see it and I don’t see how we are making enough change in the system. It is extremely frustrating.

We all have the right to understand how decisions are made and the ability to question our national and Olympic governance. And I think it is important to mention that this type of questioning should not be perceived as something negative, as it generally is. It is usually seen as an attack on the IOC or COC and it is not that at all. Questioning their governance defines their roles and responsibilities. This is the only way you can learn and grow; the only way to improve your Olympic governance is by constantly examining and reforming the system.

I find the Athletes’ Councils created as a branch of the IOC and the COC are an attempt to address the athletes’ perspective on issues that arise. However, many of us question their effectiveness and how much power they actually have.I see now that they are functioning more as just giving constructive criticism back to the Olympic Committee. They are not really able to force change and again make us question if they are really involved in the decision-making process at all.

I believe that athletes need to start to be integrated more heavily into the system, at the national and international level, not as only athlete representatives but as equals. We need to increase their numbers within the IOC and the COC, separate from the Athletes’ Commission, and need them working together as equal members and not as individual athletes sitting in. They should be more highly valued because of the specialized experience and knowledge they have, which is so valuable to our sport system. I think we all need to realize that in a perfect world we would have equal representation from every nation and every sport at the international level, but in reality we’re not even close. Equality is something that we need to strive for. We need to diminish the disparity between the representation from different nations and different sports. I hope to one day see the different Athletes’ Councils, the IOC Council, all the Olympic Committees come together in some way or begin to consistently engage in communication to learn and improve from each other. This would be an opportunity for the national athlete representatives to meet with the IOC Council and distinguish and open the lines of communication, which would drastically improve the sporting community.

A common feeling among some of the athletes is that if you are not within striking distance of an Olympic medal, you don’t matter as much as an athlete that is. With the focus of our sport system moving towards Olympic medal potential, the voice of an athlete struggling for more funding without ranking to back it up, realistically, is lost. And we can see that with regards to our new Own the Podium plan that has begun to be implemented here in Canada. I am not here to speak on my opinion of the program and whether you agree or disagree with the principle, it is an example of why many athletes are now coming running to their athlete representatives and demanding answers for why they’ve lost their federal funding.

I stand by my convictions when I say that our government is holding us back. The insufficient funding, coaching and facilities for a country of our wealth and size is unacceptable. We as a nation do not value sport in the way we should. The President of AthletesCAN Andrew Nisker said it perfectly. Sport is not just sport. It is education, it is crime prevention and it is healthcare. The power of sport is endless. How we perceive amateur sports in Canada needs to change. We need a whole culture shift that places emphasis on sport, not just medals and trophies. I think by educating the public on the remarkable role that sport has and can play in this country, our government might be more willing to make it a priority.

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If you want the entire thing it will be published in a few months with all the lecturers from the 2009 Olympic Reform Conference....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

JARRY'S PHOTOSHOOT

My friend Jarry is an absolutely incredible photographer and asked me to 'model' for him earlier this year. I jumped at the chance to work with him. Check him out at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/31660547@N02/ OR http://jarry85.deviantart.com/

Here are some of my fave pics from the day, which we shot right on Bloor St one awesome afternoon....





more to come....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Good Luck Ohenewa



I am so lucky to have met and become friends with one of the greatest women I have ever known, Ohenewa Akuffo. We have known each other for a few years now and I am still just as much in awe of her as I was the first day I met her. Ohenewa is a Canadian Olympic Wrestler, who I shared my first Olympic Games in Beijing with. Without her I wouldn't have been able to keep so positive and inspired. I can't thank her enough for that...

She sends out little email updates to all her supporters and loved ones and I wanted to share her last one with all of you...

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Hello Friends and Family,
I am preparing for another battle. I am heading off to Denmark today (Saturday September 19, 2009) to represent Canada again. Please keep me in your prayers as I am wrestling on Friday September 25, 2009. You can watch matches online and follow results at www.wwc2009.dk. Thank you for your continued support.

I am strong, I am powerful and I am blessed...
Ohenewa Akuffo

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I know it sounds pretty basic and simple, but it's anything but. She takes everything in her life, every obstacle, every challenge as a battle. She puts her whole heart into everything she does and is the definition of a fighting spirit. After finishing 5th at the Beijing Games, which is UNBELIEVABLE and I am beyond proud of her, she wanted more. Ohenewa was looking for a medal and nothing but would satisfy her. I think we all know what that feels like. It doesn't matter what place you get or what mark you receive, in or out of sport, when you set your mind to something and don't get it you're not going to be happy. I totally understand that and live through that almost every day of my life. Nothing is ever good enough, but this is not about me, this is about O. She recovered from knee surgery and put herself in the most incredible state of mind to keep going and push for the London Olympics. I hope she doesn't mind me broadcasting her age, but she is almost 30 years old and is in the best shape of her life. That last line of her email..."I am strong, I am powerful and I am blessed" really sums up her personality for me. She is a force to be reckoned with and I wish I could be more like her.

Good Luck in Denmark O you will be amazing!
much love

Friday, September 18, 2009

Remembering Dr. Gene Sutton

Last weekend I drove up to Hamilton with my family to attend Dr. Gene Sutton's memorial. She was an incredible woman who dedicated so much of her life to sport in this country. I had heard of her for years and years when I was an athlete, but never met her. It was only until I retired and started working on the other side of sport did I finally get my chance to spend some time with her. From the moment we met, she took me under her wing. She was my mentor on the Gymnastics Canada Board and helped me see how I could put my passion to good use in my sport and country. It was very shocking to hear of her sudden passing a few months ago. I was so fortunate to have been in her company for the past year to learn and grow from all her experience and wisdom. I owe my path into Olympic Education to her. She inspired me to apply for the International Olympic Academy and follow in her incredible footsteps. I couldn't have been more honored. She believed in me and I will never forget that. Our sporting community will not be the same without Gene. She touched so many of our lives. Her memorial filled the Convention Center in Hamilton and was a true celebration of her life. I know we have to keep her memory and spirit alive with all we try to accomplish in Canadian sport. Thank you for everything Gene. You are in my thoughts and my heart always.

Athletes' Council

When I got elected on to the Gymnastics Canada Board of Directors as the Athlete Representative, I had no idea what to expect. This was my first time on a Board and I was nervous, but really excited. I finally felt like this was my chance to start something, something bigger than I had imagined. It's a weird thing to feel so young when for so long in my sport I felt so old. I mean for the past few years I've been the 'mom' of the Rhythmic Gymnastics community...literally lol So walking into that first face to face meeting was terrifying. I felt like I was a child, who had no idea what she was doing. After one full day of meetings I gained my confidence and found my place in the boardroom. I did not want to be quiet (that is so not in my personality) so I made sure I spoke up. I really wanted to learn and be a part of what was going on. My fellow board members were so great and welcomed me with warmth and enthusiasm. I am very fortunate to be working among such highly experienced and intelligent people.

One of my first concerns was my actual role on the Board. What is expected from the athlete representative? More importantly, what do I want to do as the new rep? I wanted to make sure that I wasn't just a figurehead because the Board HAD to have an athlete rep. I wanted to make sure I actually used this position to do something. I have to admit once I saw how decisions were made and the very long and slow process it is I knew that I had to act fast.

My first real big proposal to the Board was the creation of a Gymnastics Canada Athletes' Council. It's not possible for me to know absolutely everything that is going on in all four disciplines (Men's Artistic, Women's Artistic, Trampoline and Rhythmic Gymnastics) and I honestly can't say I represent all of these athletes. An Athletes' Council would designate an athlete representative for each discipline that would speak with the athletes on a consistent basis and with me frequently. Therefore, each athlete would have a rep within their own sport to go to that would come to me where I can bring their issues to the Board level, where the decisions are made. It would strengthen communication between the disciplines and encourage athletes to speak up. I can't help our athletes if I don't know what their concerns are. I want to make the relationship between the NSO (National Sport Organization) and their athletes more positive and effective. Our athletes need to know that they can tell us what they like and don't like and what they're entitled to. Most athletes are so unaware of their rights and what is provided for them it's shocking.

At these past National Championships in Hamilton, Ontario I held an info session for all National team members across all disciplines. I wanted to introduce myself as their new rep and what my plans and goals are. I also gave them a crash course in everything that is out there for them, within Gymnastics Canada and organizations like AthletesCAN and the Canadian Olympic Committee. It was long and I talked for a good two hours straight, but it was an initial meeting. I'm hoping to have meetings at each Elite Canada and Nationals for every discipline every year. They will turn into brainstorming sessions for the athletes to meet with their rep and raise their voices.

Right now I am still pushing for an Athletes' Council to be put in place and included in the NSO policy. Everything that is worth it takes time and I am going to see this through. I will keep you all updated on the progress....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Commonwealth Games Canada


This morning I went down to Fuel Advertising to shoot a little promo video for Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC). They are trying to attract some new sponsors and corporate attention to the organization. When they called me and asked if I would be willing to shoot some footage I jumped at the chance. The 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia were one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was such an unbelievable trip and I would do anything for CGC. Not only did I have a career personal best down there, but I found my motivation to keep going for the Olympics. Before then I wasn't sure if there was enough left in me to do it. I was coming off one of the biggest disappoints of my life, missing the 04 Games, and Melbourne was my first real test.

I didn't know what to expect heading down to my first Commonwealth Games, but from the second I stepped off the plane I knew it was going to be a life changing trip. I hate to call it the 'friendly' games because it's just as competitive as others, but the sportsmanship and comradery among the athletes is different. Everyone is supporting each other and cheering them on, even if they're not from their country. I felt the whole village behind me when I headed into my last day of the competition going for the World REcord. That's something that you don't usually get. The athletes were more open to meeting each other and I learned a lot from them. It was kind of like a 'mentoring' session for me you could say. The Commonwealth Games lands just in the middle of the cycle, not too far from the Olympics to not take it seriously, but far enough that you're still learning and improving upon your own potential. These Games are the perfect opportunity to get out there in front of tens of thousands screaming fans and face that kind of pressure. It's a great stepping stone to Pan Ams and the Olympics. I will never forget Melbourne. I was so inspired when I left that I had the best two competitive years of my life after that. I thank everyone involved with those Games, the athletes, the coaches the Mission Staff and volunteers. They made it all it could be for all of us and we are so grateful.

So when I sat down in front of the camera, fully decked in my HBC 06 Commonwealth Gear, I had the biggest grin on my face. I believe that as athletes we can help improve the current financial support we receive from this country. We can't always rely on others to do this for us. I think that when corporations hear a genuine statement directly from an athlete, they feel more of a personal connection. When it comes from the heart how could they say no right? :)

Hopefully, I can help bring in some more support for Commonwealth Games Canada and give more of our athletes a chance to have the opportunity to represent our country at these incredible Games.

Some things never change....

I've never felt better than I do today
I finally see what everyone has wanted me to see for so long
I finally get it

Things may seem like they're different but they never really are
Deep down you're still the same
How is it possible that for one moment you could think that you were that happy?

Today you opened my eyes and I finally took a good look at what I saw
It all sounded so familiar
I'd heard those words before
And to think I thought we could be back there again

I'm laughing now
Some things never change

Thank you for letting me go

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Little Starbucks Perspective



For the past 10 days I have been going through serious roommate withdrawal. My roomie Niki jetted off to Europe for a well deserved and needed vacation (she works like a crazy person), but left me home all alone! I'm usually the one that is hardly there and is always leaving for something, but this is the first time it's completely the opposite and I'm so not a fan. Niki would probably be laughing at this right now, but it's true!

So I was procrastinating earlier and instead of doing something productive I decided to flip through some old pictures. I came across this one above and it reminded me of Niki so much. She is usually a pretty camera happy girl and taking pictures of starbucks cups sounds just like her. So this wasn't surprising when I came across it. Then I actually read the quote and loved it! Who knew Starbucks had some real insight? For those of you who can't read the small print it says:

"Failure's hard, but success is far more dangerous. If you're successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever."

I never thought about success in that way before and it really made sense to me. People go their whole lives doing things just because they're good at them, but are they really happy? For a long time I thought a certain profession and a certain salary would make me happy and provide a certain security that I thought I would need for the future. That couldn't be further from where I am in my life now. I find that I'm nowhere near as materialistic as I was when I was younger and everything I do, I do because I love it. Maybe that will lead me to my dream car or multiple houses all over the world (I can dream ok), but maybe it won't and I'm ok with that. To wake up and want to go to work every day is better than any salary. To have a passion that will ultimately make a difference in the lives of others means more to me than anything money can buy. I would rather fail at trying to do something I am so proud to be a part of than succeed at something I find meaningless and empty.



Thanks for this Niki!
COME HOME TO ME SOON I MISS YOU
much love
xo

Orlando Has Found Her Niche Here

By ALISON KORN

http://www.torontosun.com/sports/columnists/alison_korn/2009/05/29/9607481-sun.html

The athlete face of Toronto's bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games is pretty, yes, but what's more impressive about rhythmic gymnast Alexandra Orlando is the important new career she's carving out for herself.

Last summer, Orlando, 22, clinched the top spot in a list of top 50 sexiest female athletes competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After placing 18th in Beijing, she returned home for her third year of political science at the University of Toronto. With longtime injuries to tend to, Orlando was all too aware that stopping gymnastics training could make for a difficult transition this year.

But to her surprise and relief, Orlando's post-competitive life so far has been, as she put it, "incredible."

"I always knew this was going to be a really hard year of no training," Orlando said. "I loved what I was doing so much, and I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to find things that I loved to fill that void. I really didn't think I would feel this fulfilled and happy after stopping."

Orlando has found a new purpose in sport beyond pushing her body on the gymnastics mat -- a passion for athlete advocacy. At last October's AthletesCan forum, the yearly gathering of national team athlete representatives, Orlando was one of four athletes elected to its board for three years. In June, she's going to the International Olympic Academy in Greece for two weeks. And she's the athlete rep on the 2015 Pan Am bid committee, travelling to Acapulco last November to do the initial bid presentation. She'll also go to Mexico this November for the final bid presentation.

"It has definitely been one of my favourite experiences as an athlete," Orlando said of the bid work. "I just want to make sure that athletes are represented, we're being thought of, and we're making sure the Games are an athlete-centered Games."

Orlando won a record six gold medals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, and three gold at the 2007 Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she was named Canadian flag bearer for the closing ceremony. In a sport dominated by Eastern Europeans, Orlando was the only rhythmic gymnast from North or South America to qualify for Beijing.

These days, her goals are to set up an athlete council for Gymnastics Canada and strengthen communication between athlete reps from different countries and those on the IOC athlete council. The surprise nomination and election by her peers at the AthletesCan forum sparked her journey down this new path -- one she can't see herself abandoning to go back to the athlete life.

"I realize I had blinders on when I was training and had no idea what was going on in other sports," said Orlando. "I just got so pumped up and motivated and I came home [from the forum] and said, 'This is what I want to do, and really take it seriously.' I think this is an area I'm going to stay in for a while."

ALISON_KORN@HOTMAIL.COM

Friday, September 4, 2009

With A Little Help From My Friends...

After a year of completely neglecting my blog, I think I'm finally ready to start getting back into it again. I have to owe it to Mr. Jason Sealy for giving me a little push in the right direction and I want to thank him for it. I forgot how much I used to love writing. I stopped earlier this year when I was going through a lot of changes in my life that I just didn't understand. For the first time in a long time I was a little lost. The last year before the Olympics I was in so much pain, but I couldn't stop training. I had been working my whole life for that moment and no injury was ever going to stop me from competing. I had to keep pushing my body past its limits, while still being cautious. For me those two things completely contradict each other. Looking back on it now I don't know how I did it. In the end, I was so proud of myself for getting through it in one piece. When I got home I pretty much went from being in the best shape of my life to not being able to do anything active for a long time. It was a hard transition for me and I had my moments where I didn't take it very well. I am so fortunate to have such amazing people in my life to help me through those times. My family was and always is incredible. They put up with me no matter what and I am so grateful. My friends always know how to keep me sane and stop me from stressing. Somehow I'm going to have to find some way to repay all of them.

So once I came to peace with leaving my old life behind and stepping into a new one, I've never looked back. This past year has been a blur for me. I was busier than I ever was as a gymnast and am happier than I have been in a long time. I decided to dedicate this blog to my new life, not as an athlete, but just as me.

Welcome To My Crazy Life...

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Years Resolution -> Don't be so RECKLESS with your body...

So I would love to say that I took my own advice and tried to take it easy on my body this year....but that just wouldn't be me. Ever since I was a little girl I would always throw myself into things 250%, especially anything physical. I hated not being good at something and would push and push and push myself to get better with literally no fear. And I mean that. I mean no fear as in no fear of getting hurt or not being able to do something. My parents still tell me stories about how I used to throw myself down the ski hill when I was little or never ever hold myself back on the mat or in the gym. I apparently terrified my mom. Can you imagine a mother watching her kid be so competitive and fearless? I'm pretty sure it would terrify me actually. I guess it's just part of my charm as my best friend put it yesterday. I was telling her last night exactly what I've done to myself now and she wasn't even surprised. When I hurt myself it's all or nothing. It's either the worst case scenario or the best...no middle ground. So this time was no different...

I was up north having a very fun weekend with twelve lovely ladies and I really wanted to try some skiing. I had the time of my life snowboarding the week before so I really wanted to ski. Unfortunately, skiing definitely didn't like me. It was the most embarrassing and painful experience of my life! Not only was I completely hopeless at it, but had the most brutal falls. I mean those types of falls where your hat and goggles and poles go flying....your body gets thrown down the hill....skis pop off...it was a disaster. But I have to say that even though it was painful and frustrating, I kept going. I was actually getting the hang of it and managed to make it down a blue diamond (whatever that means) without falling once! So we decided to do one last run to finish off the day and that's when I think my luck really turned on me...

To make a very long and painful story short...I caught a very bad icy edge fell very very hard as I was going ridiculously fast (too fast) and my skis didn't pop off. So my body went tumbling one way and my skis (still on) got caught and just twisted my right knee. I heard that horrible snapping sound when you know you just tore a ligament. Even before I fell I knew it was bad. My whole leg was on fire and I wasn't even going to try and move it. So paramedics had to come and snowmobile me down to the bottom, which was the most embarrassing thing ever, and we had to immediately get me to a hospital. I ended up on crutches and a lot of painkillers. It's the first time I was ever on crutches and I hate them. They make you feel like you are absolutely helpless. I couldn't even get a glass of water for myself and bring it to where I was resting. It was brutal. I'm off them now but have a very long recovery to go...but I know I can handle it....serves me right for trying to have a little fun with my newfound freedom...

Moral of the story... NO TRAINING = TROUBLE :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Years!!!

I still can't believe 2008 is over and it's actually 2009! HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYBODY!



It's definitely that time of year where you reflect on the past and look ahead to the future and figure out what you really want in your life. That's what I love about resolutions. They really show you exactly where you are and what kind of person you've become and want to be....

My one very big new years resolution is to not care so much about what others think about me and stay as far away from drama as I possibly can....

I know it might sound like a weird resolution, but I constantly find myself in situations that people wouldn't even believe. I am put in the middle of friends, the middle of rumors (horrible ones at times) and the middle of things I definitely don't want any part of. I really just want this year to be DRAMA FREE! That is a big thing to hope for, but I'm going to try my very best to have a fresh start. I want to pull away from those who bring me down and surround myself with the real people who care about me. Sometimes I think when I put all my energy into making everyone else around me happy or not mad at me, it ends up backfiring. My best friends like to tell me I'm too nice in situations and walk right into trouble. Don't get me wrong, for those of you who know me I know I am extremely confident, independent and confrontational BUT what I think they mean is that I really don't want to start any trouble at all. The problem has and always will be that I won't back down to anyone who is talking behind my back and I will defend myself and my friends no matter what. You can see how that might cause some issues....

What I don't understand is that I'm 21, in my fourth year at University, and I still feel like I'm back in high school sometimes. It is just such a waste of time for everyone involved. It's crazy how rumors can get so out of hand and blown out of proportion that people you thought you could trust and who were your friends actually believe it. I just found out that that is exactly what's been going on with a few people I know back in Toronto recently. I was pretty upset about it, but I woke up today and realized that there's nothing else I can do. I know what I know and I can sleep at night knowing that I've been honest with everyone, but I can't change everyone's mind or opinion. I came to terms with the fact that people are going to judge me on preconceived assumptions and false accusations, but that happens all the time and I have to let it roll off my back. I've realized that life is never going to be perfect and not everyone is going to like me or my actions, but that's life. If you live every day worrying about what is making other people happy you won't be happy and I definitely want to be happy. I am putting anything negative from the last year behind me and moving forward into this new year and can't even imagine where I'm going to end up.

What's your new years resolution?

SNOWBOARDING

Once upon a time before I had extreme responsibilities to not get injured in some reckless way I used to ski! I wish I had a picture of my sister and I back then because we were absolutely hilarious. The last time I was out on the slopes was about 12 years ago. My family used to go up north a lot and my dad, sister and I loved it. My mom hated being cold (still does) and was more than happy to sit in the chalet by the fireplace all day while we were flying down the hills. One of the things I had to give up for gymnastics was skiing. At the time I was more than happy to because I knew I couldn't risk getting hurt, but for the first time in my life I could be out there again. I've been talking and talking and talking about getting back into it for awhile now, but didn't really know were to start. Enter Brianna :)



Brianna is one of my best friends from high school, who has always been there for me. She is one of those friends that you can go to with anything and she would never judge you. I've leaned on her shoulders many times and vented about training, family, boys...you name it. We rarely get to see each other now that we're at different Universities, but over winter holidays she just called me up and told me to get myself up to her cabin. It was a pretty spontaneous decision and I literally drove up to Collingwood for not even 24 hours to get a crash course in...you guessed it...SNOWBOARDING!!! Her family took me in and gave me all the equipment necessary so I didn't kill myself (well I think they were keeping their fingers crossed) and we were off!



Once I was actually at the top of the hill, which was let me tell you the funniest experience of my life getting there, I found out it was even more difficult to stand up once I was strapped in. For all of you who have never snowboarded before, trying to walk with one boot strapped in and your foot awkwardly turned in while you're trying to slide/walk to the lift is the most hilarious experience EVER. I'm laughing thinking about how ridiculous I must've looked. Anyways, I somehow got that whole part down and once I was actually up and standing I turned to what just felt natural and took off down the hill. Brianna had given me some tips before I actually took off, but do you think I actually listened to her? Let's just say that I took some very hard falls, but I LOVE the speed and with Brianna helping me out and figuring out why I was falling I was actually snowboarding! I have never felt anything like that before in my life. I can't even describe it. Flying down that hill gave me this insane adrenaline that coursed through me. It was unbelievable and I can honestly say I've fallen in love. I haven't been that happy like that since over a year ago and I owe it all to Brianna and her amazingly generous family!!! What do you think? My next sport maybe?