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.