Olympic Bronze and a lesson in courage

February 27, 2010 at 3:02 am Leave a comment

I’ve been watching the Olympics like many other folks. This writer watches little television, so sitting in front of the set for a few hours is quite a feat, one that involves knitting in hand, multiple breaks from the screen during inventive but repetitive commercial breaks, and but also a loyalty to this sport. Figure skating happens to be one of my favourites, though I did watch a little of the women’s hockey and men’s aerial ski jumps as well. I’ve been staying tuned to medal news and stories about athletes and how their families supported them.

After the luge death on opening day, another trauma beset an Olympic athlete and her family: the sudden death of Therese Rochette soon after she arrived with her husband in Vancouver. They had come to watch their daughter Joannie perform in the figure skating competitions.

Joannie decided to skate anyways; she would do it for her mother who had been with her since she first started taking skating lessons as a little girl.  Joannie’s courage was phenomenal on a stage where the world waited, in a venue where thousands watched the performances, in a sport that she’d prepared for with years of training.

My husband and I watched both the short and the long program, staying up late two nights to see the performance of all the qualifying young skaters. Some of them faltered under the pressure, with falls and missed jumps. Some of the young women defended a title, yet all had sacrificed something to train hard and make it there.

Still many eyes were on the Canadian athlete,  Joannie Rochette, supporting her in this trying time.  I heard reports of other viewers experiencing tears and tight throats. People who have lost a loved one understand that loss and the accompanying emotions. Add those to the pressure of a world stage. Rochette’s coach sent out a  press release thanking others for the support.  They would allow a press conference only after the competition was over. I hoped the press respected that need for privacy for Joannie, her father, other family members and friends. I prayed for Joannie too, that she might still do her best and be proud of her performance. That she would have some space to grieve.

As it turned out, Joannie did very well indeed. And credit goes to other skaters whose marks showed them achieving personal bests and beyond.

I waited for The Record this morning, even though I’d stayed up late to watch it on television.

Kim Yu-Na of South Korea, a favoured athlete in her country, came to Canada and has trained for the past few years with her coach, Brian Orser, figure skater and  silver medalist. Apparently, she was concerned that if she didn’t do well, her country would turn its back on her. A humble young woman, she possessed the right mix of elements, choreography, musical expression to make it to the top.

Reigning world champion Kim Yu-Na of South Korea won gold with a world-record score that left all the other skaters in her tracks. Mao Asada of Japan won the silver.

The Canadian Press story in today’s Record declared,

But Rochette was the big winner. Competing in the biggest competition of her life, and under the most unimaginable pressure…

Joannie can be proud of her performance. She was brave indeed. The world shall not soon forget this young woman.  I’ll be watching for her again too.

Read more here.

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Entry filed under: family, Olympics, relationships, Sports. Tags: , , .

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