Friday, February 26, 2010

Canada's Olympic Heroine

Joannie Rochette suffered the greatest loss of her life this past week. Her mother died suddenly of a heart attack last Sunday morning, after arriving at the Vancouver Olympic Games to join her daughter and family. There was no warning, no hint of illness, before she arrived. It shocked everyone on Team Canada and skaters from every country.

In her mothers’ honor, Joannie skated in the Short Program Tuesday night, putting her in third place going in to the Long Program last night. She held her focus and concentration under unimaginable stress. No other athlete at these Olympic Games faced such a tragic event so close to their performance. Injuries, squabbles, and politics – all pale in comparison to having to skate shortly after your mothers’ inexplicable death. By all accounts, Joannie was extremely close to her mother. Mme. Rochette would drive hours to Montreal from their home in Ile-Dupas, Quebec, to watch Joannie train. Joannie knew her mother would’ve wanted her to compete, although it would have been so easy to exempt herself from the Games.

Last night, she skated a near perfect performance with only a slight bobble going in to her Triple Lutz. She grabbed the Bronze Medal, finishing only three points behind Mao Asada of Japan, who took the Silver Medal. Her father, Norman Rochette, was in tears in the stands. This was a personal victory of courage and strength. This was a performance in true Olympic spirit – overcoming adversity, pushing herself to her limit, and sacrificing her personal life in order to reach that height of every athletes’ dream: a spot on the Podium. In an interview after her Medal victory, Joannie said, “I felt so much love…to get here for myself, for my country, and for my mother.”

Canada does love you, Joannie. Never doubt it.

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