Thursday, August 21, 2008

Managing the Unexpected

Where to start... Well how about I start from the end and work my way to the start. Today was the qualification rounds for the Women's High Jump. I finished 11th in my field with a height of 1.89m.. just missing qualification for finals by the smallest of margins.

Under normal conditions this would be devestating, but, actually I am well recovered and pleased with my resolve. Obviously a qualification would have been wonderful, but sometimes you have to keep things in perspective to sustain some sanity.

Yes, it was raining. Actually "terrential down fall" is probably more accurate. However, the rain wasn't so much an issue. (It just sucked trying to stay dry!) And to the credit of my competitors I think everyone did a good job staying focused and competitive. I was never nervous, but felt very comfortable in the 100,000 seated stadium. I made sure to enjoy the moment and every jump. At the very least I wanted to make sure I left EVERYTHING on the track and could give no more. And I did do that, but it wasn't enough.

On this day, I could do not much more. But, why I am okay with this performance has to do with my ability to adjust to the unexpected. On Monday at the warm-up track I sprained my jump ankle, tripping on a railing. I was in shock, pain and devestated as I limped over to my medical people -- the tears forming in the corner of my eyes. They did a good job keeping me calm and controlling the swelling. However, a subsequent assessment at the village did create panic for me (it's not a confidence booster having your foot x-rayed 3 days before an Olympic qualification round). There is also a history with this ankle. I spent 6 weeks rehabing it in March & April, and a sprain at the Olympic Games poked a hole in my balloon.

However, with some alteration in my training and some aggressive physio we were able to put me back on the track and in competition mode. I'm applying 4 to 7 times my body weight on my ankle in each jump and confidence in that joint is needed to commit to the jump.... like I'm either attacking the bar 100% or I might as well not be jumping. And I did attack. I never backed down. I attacked with the same intention as I would if I was jumping in optimal conditions. Fighting for every height, as best I could. And this is resillency for me. It's raining hard, I'm wet, I'm cold, my ankle is stiff and taped up for support but none of that matters. My only concern is execution. And to give it my all.... And I do!

There is one last thing I should mention. When you perform less than what is expected usually people don't know how to react. Some people will give you the pity look or try to avoid asking you how you are doing. I don't identify myself by my performance. Just because I'm jumping well or poorly does not make me a good or bad person. I'm still Nicole. Answering media questions after competing today was more difficult than the competition itself, because there was an insuiation that I would be really devestated by my performance. So I found myself questioning what I had or hadn't done -- when in fact I walked off the track with no regrets. Ultimately, I realized that my initial assessment was the correct reaction. I left EVERYTHING on the track and could give no more.

We all have good days and bad days, but the lessons learned and how we respond is what makes us better... And if I'm sounding positive or upbeat, it's only because I've had other competitions where I've learned this lesson.

Still learning,


Jenn Marks said...

Nicole I am very proud of you. Don't too many people can say they competed in the Olympics. You are truly an amazing athlete and person.


Lisa said...

You rock. Look what you've accomplished. Injured or no, qualified or no, you are hero to many. Head up! You're earned our respect. said...

Nicole, again- you have attained greatness in making it to the olympics and in your dedication to academics throughout your entire athletic career. You are truly an inspiration and role model and should be proud of your participation.
Congrats- you are gold in Canada's books.
Debra J.