Posted July 30, 2012
by Lianne Castelino
A huge congratulations to Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel, synchronized diving partners who captured Canada's first medal, a bronze, at the London Summer Games! Any way you slice it, this is a sport that takes the word 'challenge' and smacks it out of the ballpark a few times. Consider the criteria - stand on a springboard, 5 metres above water, gracefully cross the board, jump into the air tumbling, rotating and turning and then enter the water with as little splash as humanly possible. Oh and ya, do all of it in perfect harmony, (mirror image), synchronization with our partner. Kudos and then some.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Heymans several times during my sports television career, most notably during the course of a lengthy feature piece that focused on all the behind-the-scenes training that this supremely talented athlete - now the first Canadian Olympian to medal in 4 consecutive games -- does during the 3 years and 12 months of training in between Olympic Games.
It is utterly remarkable.
The start of the piece focused on the gruelling ballet exercises Heymans did (at the time) during her training regimen. It's an extra step required to ensure gracefulness and fluidity of movement --- before entering the water.
And then the training schedule really toughened up --- with weights, some gymnastics elements and a host of other skills before the actual diving part.
Heymans will tell you she has been training for at least 20 years a day since she was 7 years old. She had all the makings of a brilliant gymnast, before her calling moved her to diving.
Why am I writing about an incredible Canadian Olympian in a parenting blog?
Exposing children to sports from a young age is so critical. Some kids are definitely more athletically-gifted than others, some may start off appearing uncoordinated and thus frustrated, but stay with it parent and child. Let the Olympics be a lesson for every parent --- get your kids into sports early, let them try anything and everything out there and that you can afford and let them find their passion.
You will be giving your kids a gift for a lifetime.
Ask any Olympian. Ask any professional athlete. Ask anyone who plays minor league. Ask any adult who plays recreational sports. It's a gift that keeps giving back, in so many important ways.
In Heymans case, she has an iron will, is the product of an Olympian (her mother represented Belgium at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal), is an admittedly shy and reserved person who has come out of herself, thanks to sport.
Not to mention the discipline, work ethic, goal-setting and achieving, ability to sacrifice --- and a host of other attributes and lifelong gifts too numerous to mention ---- that sport has granted her.
Such a phenomenal Olympic legacy!
Posted July 16, 2012
Since day 1, I have been absolutely fascinated by this story! It has all the stuff of a great book or fabulous movie --- adventure, mystery, drama, new learnings, fun, intrigue --- the list is long and varied.
But none of these captured my interest with as much vigor as one central theme --- goal setting.
You see the object of my fascination for the past year has been a family of four (mom, dad and two young boys) who took a year-long trip around the world. They started in Toronto in July of 2011 and trekked through North, South and Central America, Asia, Australia, Europe --- even getting as close as is allowed to the, wait for it --- equator!
They experienced all kinds of cultures, languages, foods, customs, traditions without the benefit of a constant tour guide or host. They literally delved into their new surroundings armed with a backpack and a sense of wonder and curiosity. That's it.
What has riveted me to this story may surprise the average person. Since hour one, I have been enthralled with what is quickly becoming a lost art-form in our current world --- goal setting. You see the Greenwood-Davis family set this unique, once-in-a-lifetime trip as a goal several years ago. Over the course of 5 years, they planned, saved, strategized, researched, and had their dates marked off on the calendar.
They didn't win the lottery and decide to treat themselves. They didn't inherit a whack of dough and splurge. They worked for it. They had a dream and put the steps in place to make it happen. I have nothing but absolute admiration for that.
In a world where everything is now, instant, this second and not a millisecond later --- instant gratification is all the rage for many. But for parents, increasingly, it should be a source of grave concern. Whatever happened to earning something rather than it being given to you; experiencing the joy of anticipation for the fruits of ones' labour; paying your dues; wanting something so badly that putting the time and effort into achieving it brings as much joy, fulfillment and a sense of pride as achieving the goal at hand.
Heather Greenwood-Davis, aka the GlobeTrotting mama, and her husband have given their children so many wonderful gifts in the course of their year-long family adventure. The memories, the countless photos, the incredible experiences will be with them for years to come and perhaps their lifetime. The impact on their own lives of witnessing how other cultures live is another rich reward of their experiences.
But they've also given their boys priceless gifts that can't be quantified ---- the gifts of process, anticipation and accomplishment --- all priceless by-products of setting and achieving a goal.
There may have undoubtedly been times when the couple questioned their goal or execution of it, but they persevered --- modelling behaviour that speaks louder to children than any words could.
I've been privileged over the past year to conduct several video interviews with Heather Greenwood-Davis, chronicling the family's adventures around the world. There have been skype interviews on the beach, in the hotel room, on balconies, and other unique backdrops --- each and every one yielding precious insight into their experiences in foreign lands. What a gift for myself and for those who may have seen these interviews along the way.
Thank you to the Greenwood-Davis family for being so inspiring and for allowing me to live vicariously through you!