I can’t believe it’s been a year! Exactly one year ago, I was at the Vancouver Olympic Games, waiting to get on the Olympic ice… and waiting to compete for Canada on home soil in front of my family, friends, supporters, fans… in front of the whole world!
I just looked through some of my photos from the Games. Wow! What a blur! It still all seems surreal – a bit like a dream. Every once in awhile – even in Europe – I’ll be asked to sign something or to be in a picture, and although it doesn’t phase me anymore, it seems so strange when it suddenly occurs to me the reason that these requests are happening! I am now an Olympic Champion! How insane it that?!
Two of the most asked questions since the Games has been, ‘how did it feel to win the gold medal?’, and ‘what was the best part of winning?’. Well, to answer these questions, it felt totally surreal (as I mentioned above), and it was extremely overwhelming! The thing is, when I say ‘overwhelming’ I don’t really mean the winning part! I’m referring to the people – the crowds of people wearing red and cheering, chanting, and overtly bursting with Canadian pride! The medal presentation was probably the best (and most emotional) part of winning. But, surprisingly, not when the medal was actually placed around my neck! It was literally after taking about five or six steps out onto the stage and seeing the massive crowd of people – a huge sea of red – all cheering madly! In an instant I was overwhelmed, choking back tears, and trying to hold myself together! It was so emotional for me. And then seeing my family towards the front, all wearing their tall red and white top hats (that have made almost every Olympic memories video), and I was thankful to have to turn the corner and face the back of the stage for a brief moment to walk behind the podium blocks.
Anyone who knows me probably knows that I am an emotional person when it comes to family and where I’m from. And when I took that step up to the very top of the podium with Kaillie (just as when I first stepped out onto the stage), I looked out at the vivid display of Canadian pride in the crowd, thought about the groups of people randomly stopping in the middle of a Vancouver street to sing ‘O Canada, thought of the amazing job that Canada did in hosting a brilliant Olympics, and simply felt so proud and fortunate to be Canadian.
I wanted to win that race, not necessarily because it was the Olympics, but because it was a race! I am a competitor and I wanted to win. I was thrilled that Kaillie and I had accomplished what we had set out to do. We kept each other so relaxed and focused that we didn’t just win the race, we beat everyone else by a huge margin, leaving no doubt that we deserved it! I am proud of that! But, what made winning that race better than any other was all of you – dressed in red and white, with crazy top hats and maple leafs on your heads, Canadian flags tied around your necks. YOU – my fellow Canadians – are what made winning that race so amazingly memorable and emotional. Without you, yes I would have been exciting and happy about winning the race. But with you, the experience was electric and somewhat unbelievable and surreal… and I thank you for that – for maybe renewing and demonstrating your Canadian support and pride, and making my gold medal represent more than just winning a race!