As seen on CBC Sports
The following is a pep talk Canadian Olympic track cyclist Monique Sullivan wrote for herself on Sunday, before the sprint tournament. She says she didn't get the results she wanted this week but is proud of her effort, and grateful to be in Rio and for the "tremendous support" from Canadian fans.
Chris Hadfield's dream was to walk on the moon.
In all of the things he has done in his life, he has never walked on the moon, and so technically he failed at his dream.
Instead, he went to space for six months as commander of the space station. He has reinvigorated the Canadian space program and reminded us of the wonder of exploration. Sure, maybe space exploration isn't curing world hunger, but Chris Hadfield followed his passion and in doing so became the best version of himself he could possibly be. I know that when I heard his story I found it to be inspiring that a human like myself could accomplish what he did.
Now, I don't mean to compare myself to Chris Hadfield, but in one small way, we are similar.
This week I failed at my goal. My goal – my dream – was to win a medal in the keirin competition at the Olympics.
I worked tirelessly for this goal and poured my heart and soul into it. In the end, I simply wasn't good enough. I received a lot of support and worked my butt off and I am the best bike rider I have ever been. Yet, yesterday on the track, I was blown out of the water.
I am very disappointed and I feel quite like I've failed. It is very tempting to shut down and give up even though I have another race. (To be honest I did sort of shut down and our sport psychologist helped me through it!)
The thing is though, I do not want to go home bitter.
I might feel like a failure in this moment but I am a two-time Olympian and an engineer. I have worked very hard, gotten very lucky, and sulking in a pool of self pity in this moment would be a slap in the face for all those who never got to come to the Games.
So I will race.
I will race in gratitude for being here. For being one of the few people in the world who gets to do something they love as their job.
If nothing else, I will get up after defeat and I will try again because that's what I told 150 students all year that that's just what you do.
When I go home next week I want to be able to tell my students to dream so big that if they fail they will still land among the stars. That it is OK, in fact necessary, to have a dream so big that the odds are against you. I want them to know that even if they do not achieve their dreams, if they have done their very best, there is value in that, even if you can't hold it in your hands.
"We cannot cure the world of sorrows but we can choose to live in joy." – Joseph Campbell
I never really understood that quote but this week I am realizing that choosing to live in joy is hard. It is not a cop out. When we choose to live in joy we enable others to do the same and we can bring joy into the world. What greater gift could there be?
Thank you for reading and for being part of this journey! I really am so very genuinely grateful.
Thank you for having a look at my new website! Special thanks to The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) and Web Hosting Canada for creating this unique space for me, and to Dave Holland for the photos that make it shine!
Since the Games are right around the corner I thought I’d start of with a quick post outlining the Rio Schedule. I am hoping the events will be streamed online at CBC.ca but I don’t have a schedule.
August 3rd - Travel to Rio!
Goodbye Milton, I am already feeling nostalgic for the training group we have built here!
August 12th - Team Sprint Day!
This is a two lap race. Kate O’Brien will do the first lap and I will slot in behind her. After one lap she will pull off and I will do the second lap on my own. Her job is to get us going as fast as possible and it will be my job to hold the speed and not fade at the end.
Things to look for:
There will probably be a gap between us for the first half lap or so because Kate will be a smaller gear. If I do a good job, I will close that gap going into the second corner. We are hoping for a time in the low 33 seconds, or if the track is running really fast, we would be thrilled to get into the 32’s!
August 13th - Keirin Day
The Keirin is an 8 lap race, with 6 riders on the track at a time. The first 5.5 laps are paced by a derny bike and with 2.5 laps to go, the derny will pull off and it is a fight to the finish line. The derny’s job is to bring the riders up to speed gradually so that when it pulls off the riders are going fast but their legs are fresh. There will be a first round, a repechage round (a second chance to get to the next round), a semifinal round and a final, so hopefully I will be racing 3-4 times this day! This race is very dynamic, and anything can happen.
Keirin racing is very popular in Japan where it is a betting sport. (I will be racing in the professional league in Japan in the Fall, which I am very excited about.)
August 14-16th - Individual Sprints
This is the cat and mouse event. We start of with a 200m time trial (I will be looking for a time lower than 11 seconds if the track is running fast) which seeds the riders. Then we are paired up to compete against in each other in a tournament style format. Each match sprint is slightly different with some riders preferring to ride from the front and others prefer to ride from the back.
We have been working very hard and have been seeing solid improvements in training. Even though I am nervous, I am also so excited to finally get there and see what we can do! We have done the work, now we try to stay as calm as possible to get the very best out of ourselves on race day. I have received help from so many great people, I really hope to give you all something good to cheer for!
This blog is written by Monique Sullivan