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I am an Olympian

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

When I set my mind up to try and get to the Olympic Games I knew I was in for a hard road, I knew there were going to be hard days and I knew there were going to be lots of blood, sweat and tears involved. I was prepared to face the physical pain and I was prepared to fight the mental battles. What I wasn’t prepared for though, was the whirlwind of 2020… I don’t think anything could have prepared me for that year.

At the beginning of 2020 everything was what I hoped and worked hard for it to be, and we were winning all our competitions and just one step away from finally being selected onto the Olympic team. Our Olympic dreams were finally at our fingertips. But then it slipped right away when COVID hit the world… The whole world went into lock down and our Olympic dream was shattered into pieces and we were told to go home and stay home. Although things were looking very uncertain, I was blessed to be surrounded by 5 other determined women on my team who decided to keep going and train at home regardless of the uncertainty. I had the support of my teammates and the support of my mum to keep pushing and keep trying. I kept going because I had a dream, a dream to become an Olympian.

After a few months, we started coming out of lockdown and we were slowly getting back to a ‘normal’ life. Although we all trained hard at home, we were not at the Olympic ready level that we once were, so we had to slowly chip away at it again. I knew training for the Olympics was going to be hard, but who knew that COVID would arrive in the year of 2020 to make it that much harder. I really had to dig deep to get back to the level I was once at, and I finally did after a few months of hard training. But just as everything was getting back to where I wanted them to be, something else happened, something I didn’t expect, something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone and something I wish never happened… On the 7th of August 2020, I lost my beautiful mum.

The last few moments I got to spend before I lost her, I didn’t tell her that I wouldn’t survive without her and I didn’t tell her that I needed her to live, because I knew that’s not what she needed to hear. Even though they were the thoughts in my head, I told her that she had brought me up to be strong and I would be okay and that I would keep making her proud no matter what, and that was my promise I made to her. My promise was that I would keep going and keep making her proud.

The same afternoon that I lost her, I went in to training to let everyone know. I got asked by my coach ‘what can we do to support you?’ and my answer was ‘to help me try and get to the Olympics.’ From that very first day my decision was to keep going, I didn’t know if it was possible, but I knew I had to try. I knew I had to try for mum, and that’s exactly what I did. After having a break, I slowly came back to training and I slowly tried to get back to the level I was once at… again. This time though was a lot harder, and it required a whole lot more grit than the first because this time I was dealing with grief as well.

What I believe got me through grief and everything I was going through in 2020 were these 3 things:

1. Grit

2. Gratitude

3. Love

In the hardest of times, I was determined to find things I was grateful for. Whenever grief hit me, I let myself cry and cry and cry, but at the end I always had to remind myself of how lucky I was, as weird as that sounds… How lucky I was to have had my beautiful mum for 22 years (some kids never had mums), how lucky I was to have a mum that was also my best friend (some people have broken relationships with their mums). How lucky I was to be surrounded by so many supportive people and always had someone to talk to (some people don’t have the support). And most importantly, how lucky I was to be surrounded by love (I know not everyone is surrounded by love). The 5 teammates that I went through lockdown with, were like my sisters and they always surrounded me with love.

I was also lucky enough to have a second family who looked after me and loved me and gave me all the love I needed when things were hard. Love is what got me through the hard times of 2020 and what really means the most to me. They may not know it, but they helped me move mountains and helped me find gratitude and joy in the hardest of times. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it to the Olympics. So with love and gratitude, I survived the whirlwind of 2020 and thank goodness 2021 became a better year. We finally qualified for the Olympic Games and I competed on the 7th of August 2021, which was the one year anniversary date since losing my mum. That day I became an Olympian and competed in honour of my mum and in honour of the promise I made to her to keep going and to keep making her proud.

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