The other day my massage therapist asked me why I want to go to the Olympics. Why am I working so hard towards this elusive goal? And even though it is a very common question and most athletes’ answers are all variations on the same theme, in my half awake, jet lag and exhausted state I couldn’t really remember.
As I was driving home I thought about my keirins at the World Championships last week. I was so nervous for the first round. Everyone had told me that there was no pressure, just do your best. But I knew that my best meant making it at least into the 2nd round and I was scared to death that I might screw something up.
So we made a plan and I stuck to it, but it didn’t work. I was disappointed but there is always a repechage (a 2nd try) in the keirins and I felt was feeling less nervous now that I had done one and had the sensations back.
I had the very same plan for the next ride and it worked out brilliantly. I was at the back and I came over the pack and so strong and fast it felt incredible. I am smiling at the line knowing that I qualified for the 2nd round and guaranteed myself a top 12 at the World Championships.
It’s that feeling, that feeling of speed and power and strength, knowing how hard it was to get there, and the relief of pulling it all off. That’s why I do this. That’s what makes it all worth while.
But there’s another reason too.
The night before my keirin, Tara Whitten of Edmonton won the World Championship in the Women’s Omnium. In doing so she became the first World Champion for Canada in track cycling since 1993.
I room with Tara when we are on the road and she is a really good friend of mine. You might think that the week leading up to the performance of a lifetime would be a smooth ride. That she would have felt really fast in training, slept well, been healthy; that she would feel everything coming together.
But it really wasn’t that way for Tara. Only three days before her win, she had a devastating individual pursuit. She was sick. She felt so much pressure.
But she just manned up. And that’s what was cool. We are always searching for that perfect feeling but sometimes it just doesn’t feel good. Sometimes you just have to take what you’ve got, believe in yourself even if it seems impossible, and give er.
Only two years ago the British Team was completely dominant in the sport of track cycling. In some areas they appeared undefeatable. But already other countries are matching them, and beating them. It was awesome to see the other countries fighting to meet the high standard that they set out.
And it was unbelievable to be one of those countries taking them down.
As for the rest of my keirins, I wasn’t able to execute my plans the way I’d hoped. I finished 9th but came off the track from the final feeling defeated. The excitement from being top 12 wore off as soon as I was back on the track for the semi final and final; I wanted more.