Tag Archives: sport

Weekly Update #33: On Tokyo winning the 2020 Summer Olympics…

You may have heard this weekend that Tokyo has been awarded the 2020 Summer Olympics. If you haven’t well, now you have. Like many others , I read the stories on news sites, saw peoples reactions on Twitter and Facebook and even watched a couple videos of the reactions of some Japanese who were up at 5 am to watch the announcement that was taking place in Buenos Aires.

As I watched the members of the Tokyo bid committee and ordinary Japanese celebrate their successful bid I couldn’t help but feel good. I always get the shivers whenever I see large outpourings of jovial national pride, regardless of whether its my nation or someone else’s.

Inevitably, I made my way down to the comments sections on one of the news articles and, again inevitably, I found comments supporting and congratulating Japan mixed in with a healthy dose of “the Olympics cost too much and nobody cares, or benefits and the money should be spent elsewhere” comments.

The truth is, the Olympics do cost a lot of money. Sometimes, its money well spent and well managed and a host city can have a hugely successful games (Los Angeles ’84, Calgary ’88 and Vancouver 2010 come to mind). Sometimes its not (Montreal ’72, Athens ’04 and I’m sure others). But one thing that people don’t always think of is the emotion that the Olympics, not just the two weeks of Games, but the lead up that starts with the announcement, can bring to a country.

I remember in 2003 when the International Olympic Committee was about to announce who would host the 2010 Winter Olympics. At that time, I had just finished grade 10 and was attending a summer training camp for young skaters at the Olympic Oval in Calgary. There is always a buzz for all things Olympic around the Oval, and every T.V in the place was turned on to CBC to watch the announcement. When Jacques Rogge opened the envelope and announced that Vancouver would be host, the room went crazy. G.M Place in Vancouver went crazy. I think a lot of Canada went crazy.

In that moment, I remember feeling so much excitement. I added up the years and knew that 7 years from that announcement I would be 23, a prime age for Olympic competition. I vowed to myself that I would make it to those Games. It would be an amazing moment, an Olympic Games in my own country! Right after the announcement, I had to head to my next session, and I remember doing it with a little bit of extra energy, knowing that I had seven years to get to my best and not a second to waste.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I didn’t make it to those Games. I just missed out. But thats not the point of this post. The point is that while the Olympics come with a hefty price tag, I’m guessing that if the excitement they generate are enough to make this 16 year old kid dedicate himself to seven years of sport and healthy living then there were numerous others all across our country (and maybe even the world) that did or wanted to do the same. And if a bunch of kids can be inspired to do that from one announcement, then imagine what an entire 2 weeks of games can do!

So congratulations Tokyo, and all of Japan. You may have just committed yourself to spending a big wack of cash, but I’m sure there is already a generation who are inspired to take up the Olympic spirit and carry it with them for the rest of their lives. Call me corny, but to me, thats the most important reason why hosting the Olympics is worth it.

If you’re interested, here is the video of the Vancouver 2010 announcement.

 

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Weekly Update #31

These days are pretty boring (well I’ve had some exciting news, but check back on Thursday for that!). Like most injuries, the best way to heal is to rest. The only problem is that its easy to rest something like, say, a sore knee or ankle. You simply stay off of it. A brain though, isn’t so easy.

I’ve been trying lots of methods, but its not easy to keep brain stimulus to a minimum. Its not easy on the brain to watch hours of TV, read a book or surf the internet for hours on end. Even just sitting or lying there doesn’t work that well since all I can think about it whether I’m getting better. Or wondering if that little twitch I felt might be a headache and then overanalyzing until I have a headache from nothing other than worrying. Its frustrating.

So what do my days look like these days? Well, I’ve been going into the rink in the mornings while the guys are on ice. This give me some connection to the skating world and lets me watch and try to keep some technical cues sharp in my mind. While I’m there I can do a small activation routine that I’ve been instructed to do by our medical team. Then I normally get some physio done on my neck. Basically thats it for the day. The rest of the time I try to rest my brain as much as possible.

One thing that I’ve found to be effective in calming my mind and allowing rest has been long walks. I’ve been exploring my neighbourhood quite a bit. Hochelaga has some cool things going on. Back alleys are a great way to find out what a neighbourhood is like.

I also do some work with a electrical stim machine to try and reduce the effects of atrophy on my legs. This will hopefully lessen the amount of time it will take me to build back up to full strength once I’m back on ice.

Sorry for the bad quality. I'm putting the nodes on to stim my calves.

Sorry for the bad quality. I’m putting the nodes on to stim my calves.

Video

Weekly Update #30 – Injury Update

Now that Olympic Trials are over, its time for me to recap my crash from a week and a half ago.

As many who read this blog may have heard, I crashed hard in the first A final of the Intact Insurance Short Track Olympic Team Selections. It was a bit of a freak accident. After taking the bell lap in 2nd place, I was rounding the second to last corner when I hit a rut and went down. Had I just fallen by myself, it would have been a routine, although disappointing, crash. Unfortunately though, Charle Cournoyer, who was following a few positions behind me, hit the same rut and went down as well, piling straight into me. My knee went straight into my face and Charle hit the rest of my head as he went into the mats. I’ve posted the video below.

When a skater falls in short track, the first thing you do is a sort of systems check to make sure everything feels like its in one piece. The first thing I noticed was that my face hurt and it felt like my nose was bleeding. As I opened my eyes to check for the blood I expected to be coming from my nose, I was surprised to see an orangish liquid, one that I’ve never seen before, coming out of my nose faster than you want to see. By that time the doctor and medical team had jumped over the boards and were pinning me in place in case of a severe spinal injury. After they checked with me to make sure I was experiencing any tingling in my extremities and that I could move my arms, legs etc, I wanted to get up and off the ice.

Feeling a little woozy once I got off the ice, our team doctors decided that I should really go to the hospital to get a CT scan on my face and skull since I took such a wack to the face and because that orangish fluid can potentially be an indication of skull fracture. This would mean I would have to pull out of the trials for at least the rest of the day. Normally this would be something that would make me mad and I would resist against (pulling out, not precautionary scans), but this time, I didn’t feel like going back on the ice that day. And when I don’t feel like that, I know that theres something serious.

After an awful drive, starting and stopping in rush hour traffic while concussed and nauseous is not fun at all, we got to the hospital. After a relatively quick wait, I received my CT scan and the good news that no fracture was shown. I headed back home with a banging headache and a swollen cheek.

Its my experience with injuries like this during times of competition that getting injured isn’t the hard part. The hard part is waiting to get better while you watch your training partners and friends get ready to continue racing. I wanted to be out there so badly. But each time I tried to run scenarios of when I could get back on the ice and compete, I worked myself up and my headaches got worse. Finally, after being re-evaluated each day and hoping I would magically wake up each morning feeling 100%, we (myself and the team medical staff) made the decision last Thursday that I would pull out from the rest of the Olympic Trials. There was no way I could get on the ice and be ready for the last days of the competition with anything close to my 100% performance level that would be needed to participate, and succeed, in such an elite level competition.

The decision to pull out was both an easy one and a hard one at the same time. Easy because I know that I only have one brain for the rest of my life (although Liam Mcfarlane may argue differently…he’s sure robotics will take over in the not too distant future) and also because I knew that I would potentially be a hazard to not only myself but the other skaters on the ice. And hard because I had worked hard for a long time so that I could perform at my best at the Olympic Trials and prove to myself and others that I was deserving of a spot on the 2014 Canadian Olympic Short Track Team.

So whats next? Well immediately after the crash, my focus turned to getting back to full health. Since Aug 7th, I have seen a very good improvement in my condition. The headaches are subsiding, my neck is feeling slowly better and I feel more myself each day. I’m hoping to get back to some light off ice training sometime this week and maybe back on the ice in a week or so. Of course its all a day to day thing, as I must continue to be symptom free during my return to training. Everyone I have talked to has told me not to push it and come back too early, and I plan on taking that advice, even if its hard to do as I’m chopping at the bit to get back.

On the Olympic qualification side of things, I am lucky to live in a country that leaves space in their selection policy for medical byes. I will have to ask to be selected to the team through this route, based on my performances from last season. Now that the competition is over, Speed Skating Canada will be deliberating this week before an official announcement of the team in the coming days. Having to request a bye is not what I had envisioned, but I am lucky to even still have a chance to potentially qualify.

As always, thanks to my sponsors, SSi Micro, Tait Communications and the Government of the NWT. Thanks as well to everyone who has wished me well over the past few days!

 

Weekly Update #12 – Now with bonus weeks!!

Alright here we go. Whats new? Well, first off, World Cup trials week came and went. The first trials of the year always bring out some nerves in everyone. After not racing for the summer, everyone is anxious to test out their form and see if the changes they have made over the summer are starting to pay off.

For me, the trials marked my return to racing since breaking my shoulder in January. Even though I hadn’t raced for the better part of 8 months, the longest period I’ve gone without racing since 2004, I was surprisingly relaxed going into the weekend. Maybe it was that I knew that I had put in a good summer of training, or that I just felt at ease in my old home rink and favourite speed skating facility in the world, the Olympic Oval, or maybe it was the awesome lead up to the weekend I had thanks to my sister letting me use her kitchen to cook exactly what I wanted (she cooked for me a couple times too – Huge thanks goes out to here for being my #1 support crew that week). Im going to go with a combo of all of those things.

By the end of the weekend, I had racked up some up and down results. We did each of the 1500m, 500m and 1000m twice. My 1500m was consistent, I finished 3rd and 2nd, which were good results for me. My 500 and 1000 were also consistent, but not were I wanted to be. I finished 11th in both the first time around and 6th in both the second time around. Obviously I’m looking for more in those two distances.

Normally I’d be mad with those results in the 1000 and 500. But I honestly felt like I raced well. I know that I am capable of great results in both of those distances, its just a matter of being patient. I am definitely on the right track.

The good news was that after all that, my overall result was good enough to qualify me for the World Cup team for the first 4 World cups this season. I finished 4th overall. Our team for the men will consist of Charles Hamelin, Olivier Jean, Francois Hamelin, myself, Liam Mcfarlane and one more person to be named by the High Performance Committee as a discretionary choice.

Photo credit – Tracy Hillis

Photo credit – Tracy Hillis

Following trials, I had planned to take a couple of days off and head out to the mountains for a couple days of camping and hiking in the backcountry with my good buddy Reid. We were super lucky to have perfect, perfect september weather for the three days. I absolutely love spending time in the mountains and of course, living in Montreal, I get out way less often than I wish I could, so it was great to get out and enjoy some time away from skating.

Life is tough – Hanging out on an unnamed peak after scrambling up

Smooooke on the waaater. Literally. This is smoke from our campfire.

Ladies, this man is single

Before I wrap it up, I should mention that my blog is now featured on sportcafe.ca alongside the blogs of many other awesome Canadian amateur athletes. Check SportCafe out, they are the leading resource for news and updates from your Canadian Olympic athletes!