160 days until the Qualifier
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet Clara Hughes, one of the most decorated and inspirational athletes to date. After reading her book, “Open Heart, Open Mind”, I realized how much she’s been through these last few years. It describes her struggle with depression leading to and during her many Olympics as well as how sport saved her from Alcohol and Drug abuse. It is beautifully written and I encourage others to read it!!!
I arrived downtown at 4:00pm. After driving around for a solid 20 minutes, I found some parking near the bookstore where she was supposed to be speaking… Losing my Visa Card in the process (which I only realized now) I pay for the parking and walk to the Indigo.
At 5:30pm Clara arrives. She speaks to the press, en français, and then has an interview in front of the waiting audience. She spoke about her past, her parents, her inspirations and of course, her husband who has clearly been a huge part of her journey to success. There were moments where you hear her voice crack, creating a feeling that this new chapter in her life about opening up has been difficult for her.
7:00pm: it’s finally my turn to meet my idol. She calmly turns to me and says hello. Without a moments hesitation, I spill my entire story to her and explain my fears and struggles heading to the 2016 Olympic Games. She just listens; no interuption or telling me that she has to move on to the next person. Patiently, she looks at me with such kindness and understanding.
Clara explains to me that sometimes everything goes perfectly pre-games and when you get there, it all falls apart. Or other times, you’re at the point of breaking and when you get to the Games, you have the best competition of your life. You might pre-qualify and everything will be stress free leading up to the Olympics, or you will have to fight for that last spot. Basically, it will never go as planned, no matter how much you try to make it so. She’s been through it all.
She emphasized the importance of working as a team; bringing each other up when it’s necessary. Her wisdom towards the Olympics and the struggles that come with such an event are so evident, even relating cycling to swimming. Clara put everything in perspective, transforming my recent feelings of panic to confidence.
Thank you Clara!!