How did it feel when they put the medal around your neck at the Olympics?
Prior to heading to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, I tried to imagine what it would feel like to win an Olympic gold medal in my home country, and fulfill a dream that I first had when I was just a little girl playing minor hockey. What I didn’t know heading into the Games was that there was nothing I could have done to prepare myself for the overwhelming emotions I would experience when that gold medal was put around my neck. As I stood with my teammates at the end of the game as we were awarded our gold medals in front of over 18,000 screaming fans at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver, and millions more watching on TV, it was surreal, and I almost couldn’t believe that it was really happening.
I get asked this question more than any other when it comes to my hockey career, and I still have difficulty finding the proper words to accurately describe what it really felt like when they put the gold medal around my neck. I was so overcome with joy, pride, happiness, and excitement, while simultaneously experiencing a rush of exhilaration and a huge sense of relief. There was considerable pressure on us in Vancouver to win the gold, and once we had accomplished something that millions had expected us to, a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders.
I also remember reflecting back on the year that we had together as a team, finding it hard to believe we had gone through as much as we did the year leading up to the Olympics. Viewers and fans watching the Games are often only exposed to the performance of the athletes at the Olympics, and are unaware of what we go through to get to that point. Our journey as a team started in May 2009 with a rigorous and extremely challenging month-long training camp, which we call “boot camp,” in Dawson Creek and Tumbler Ridge, B.C. After boot camp, we had approximately five weeks to return to our home towns and train on our own before all 26 players trying out for the team were required to relocate to Calgary. This relocation is called centralization, during which we practiced and trained full-time as a team from the beginning of August right through until the Olympics. We played a total of 52 games prior to even heading to the Olympics as a part of the tryout process, with the team being officially selected on December 21st, 2009. It was a rollercoaster year of ups and downs, highs and lows, and it was a journey that I will never forget. We just completed our month long “boot camp” for this Olympic cycle, which was held in Penticton, B.C., so the journey towards the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia has officially begun!
We often use visualization and imagery of success as a source of motivation. I did just this throughout the centralization year and also prior to heading to the Games in Vancouver, and I truly believe it helped me to optimize my performance. Thinking of how it would feel to represent my country and to win that gold medal drove me with absolute undying dedication towards our goal of winning gold on home soil. When setting goals for yourself, picture in your mind and think of how it would feel to accomplish that goal. What feelings would you experience, and how hard would you be willing to work to get there? Now take those feelings you have envisioned yourself experiencing when you achieve your goal, and imagine multiplying them by, say, one hundred. That is what it would really feel like once you achieve your dreams! Speaking from my Olympic experience, although we can imagine what it would really feel like to reach our goals, nothing can truly prepare you for the emotions that you will be overcome by when you do.