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Back in February of 2010 I got to experience a trip of a lifetime with a great friend. Many said it was a once in a lifetime experience, going to the Olympic Games. Fortunately for me, I also got to experience Calgary in 1988 with my family, and while my friend and I would have needed to win the lottery to properly experience London 2012, the thought of going crossed our minds.
The Olympic Games are the highlight of many armchair sports fans careers, so just imagine what they are like for an athlete. Four years of lead up after years and years of training and dedication. Watching the Canadian Track and Field Olympic trials at the end of June made me realize really how precarious an athlete’s Olympic dream can be. Two of Canada’s top female hurdlers, one of which (Lopes-Schliep) is a former Olympic medalist, failed to qualify for London. Former World Champion Perdita Felicien, best known for her unfortunate trip off the start blocks in the 2004 Athens games, was disqualified for a false start and Lopes-Schliep hit a hurdle and couldn’t recover. Olympic dreams came to a crushing halt in one race – just over 12 seconds long.
Diver Alexander Despatie’s road to his fourth Olympic Games was in jeopardy after striking his head on the springboard in a training accident just over a month prior to the Games. He sported a long nasty gash just under his hairline in a TV interview recently, but they have listed him as concussion-symptom-free and ready to compete for another Olympic medal.
Canada’s show jumper Ian Millar will compete in his record breaking tenth Olympics in London. The 65-year-old’s appearance in this summer’s Olympics will be the most by any athlete from any country. A 2008 silver medal in team-jumping highlights his long and storied career, and he would be my selection to carry Canada’s flag at the opening ceremonies.
Winner of the prestigious Giro D’ Italia road-cycling race, Ryder Hesjedal may have seen his Tour de France hopes dashed after a massive stage six pile up, but he will have a chance at Olympic glory as Canada’s lone entry in the men’s road-cycling race. Cycling teammate Clara Hughes, the only multiple Olympic medal winner at both the winter and summer games, is back on a road bike and gunning for more Olympic hardware.
An athlete’s personal story often goes unnoticed in their careers. Achievements in sport are always result-based, and many times the accomplishments in just getting to the start gate are overlooked. While Canada may not rack up the medals like we did on home soil at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the London 2012 summer games are sure to bring many highlights. Check out CTV’s coverage July 27-August 12. Segments such as “Difference Makers”, “Snapshots” and “UpClose” are designed to bring you the behind the scenes stories that often bring tears to the eyes.
My husband and I considered rigging our TV cable so we can be armchair Olympians out on our deck, but technical difficulties are preventing much success. It may be tough to spend summer days inside watching sports on TV but the seven-hour time change will help so you can watch most prime time events in the morning or at lunch and then still get out for an afternoon ride or float down the river. I know I will be glued to my TV cheering on all Canadian Olympians, as they have accomplished so much just by being there.