If I Were a Summer Athlete…
One year from now, Canadian sport fans will see the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara and picture themselves right there in the middle of the action.
They will fantasize about breaking the tape in the 100-metre dash or gliding through the pool for gold.
As it turns out, winter Olympians are just like the rest of us.
Canada’s heroes of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games daydream about competing in summer sports too and many know exactly which sport they would try.
“I’d do track and field, because it would be incredible to experience the energy of 100,000 people in the audience watching the performance!” said Clara Hughes, six-time Olympic medallist.
No stranger to summer Games, Hughes is the only athlete to win multiple medals in both the winter and summer Games. On top of four speed skating medals, she won double bronze in cycling at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Heather Moyse is another two-sport star. The 2010 Olympic bobsleigh gold medallist is also a member of the Canadian rugby team. But, as she explained, those aren’t the only sports on her radar.
“I have actually been considering cycling—like in the velodrome,” said Moyse. “I’ve never done it before, but I’m going to try it.”
Figure skater Scott Moir is another Olympian who hears the call of the track.
“I would love to be a track star,” he said. “It would be so cool to be named the fastest runner at any distance. I think it is the simplicity of the event that interests me so much, the idea of being the fastest man in the world.”
Meanwhile, his gold medal partner Tessa Virtue could see herself putting down the skates and picking up a racket.
“I’ve always loved tennis,” Virtue said. “It combines athleticism and strength with elegance and grace. I like the idea of reacting to an opponent, all the while maintaining a personal strategy and anticipating every shot.”
This is where Virtue and 2010 bronze medal figure skater Joannie Rochette differ.
“Although I love to watch tennis, I don’t think I could realistically be good at it,” said Rochette. “I have no coordination with sports played with a ball, and I am not very tall!”
Rochette sees herself in sports that mirror figure skating’s artistic side a little more closely.
“I would like to have done diving or gymnastics,” she said. “You depend only on yourself. There is a very technical side to it, but it is also very artistic. In gymnastics, you also have to relate to your music.”
It seems that many winter Olympians would pick up an oar.
“Rowing looks really fun to me and I want to try it,” said Olympic gold medal bobsleigh driver Kaillie Humphries. “Ben Rutledge from the men’s eight team said he would teach me when I go out to Vancouver at some point. I’m going to do it, I just don’t know when.”
“There seem to be some strong similarities between rowing and speed skating with regards to combining power, endurance, and efficiency, so I think I would naturally be drawn to it,” said fellow 2010 Olympic champion Lucas Makowsky. “I’ve also been out on the water a few times over the past couple of years and loved every bit of it!”
“Even though I’ve only done it a few times, the feeling of catching the water just right and propelling the boat forward is amazing,” said four-time Olympic Speed Skating medallist Kristina Groves. “I also think my long arms and legs would be an asset!”
Whether it’s a summer sport or a winter sport, Canadian athletes are among the best in the world. When the Canadian Pan American Team gets down to business in Guadalajara next October, they will have some very famous fans cheering them on.