Today’s blog is going to be a bit different. I wanted to share part of my new book “The Force Within” with you. Below are links to order your copy:
Australia/New Zealand : click here
Rest of the World: click here
I would like to share the Introduction:
This book is how I transitioned from what I thought would be a life log career as a police officer to living the life as an elite Paralympic Athlete.
It is how 85 years of service on the Toronto Police Force by my family and myself taught me lessons in building resilience. How those lessons taught me that when one door closes another one can open. You may have to look for that door and pull it open, but there can be good things waiting for you when you are faced with a change or adversity in life. Step through that door, maybe into the unknown but embrace what can happen on your life road.
My time on the police force and the lessons that I learnt from a family dedicated to this job definitely shaped the person I am today as an athlete, a daughter, a sibling, a friend, and a wife. They taught me to be resilient and to look for the good in everything, live with change and accept challenges with open arms. They also taught me about love. Unconditional love for family and friends, the type of love that will carry you through the good and the bad times.
I would never go back and change any of my experiences as they have taught me a lot about dedication, integrity, perseverance, and belief in myself to see what life had in store for me.
2020 was supposed to be an exciting and fulfilling year. A swan-song to the last 10 years of hard training and commitment. The Tokyo Paralympics would be my third games and, at the age of 59, I was still shaking my head in amazement as to what I had accomplished over those last 10 years. Not that I didn’t think it would happen, I knew my abilities. But at a time when friends my age were looking at retirement, I was still enjoying training and racing against competitors who were, on the whole, a lot younger than me.
At the beginning of January news out of China was reporting on a new virus that was spreading. To be honest I don’t think I took much notice. The world had been through a number of things like this in the past, such as SARS and Ebola and I, along with many others, just figured it was another form of flu and that it too would pass.
On March 17th as the virus became a pandemic and was spreading from China to Europe, becoming devastating in Italy, I was involved in a teleconference with athletes from around the world and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on just what was happening with the games. The word was that there was no plan B, that the games would be held. I still thought that even though Italy was really in trouble I could possibly still head to Europe for the racing season and just do some races in other parts of Europe and then head into Belgium to meet the rest of the Australian Para Cycling team for the World Championships.
But on that call there was an athlete from Italy who pleaded with the IPC. They asked how there could be a games that would be fair to everyone, with some countries not having access to training at all. I think it was then I knew in my heart that these games wouldn’t be going ahead. It was only weeks later that the IPC informed the world that the games would be postponed to 2021.
At least we had an answer. Postponed was better than cancelled. My swan-song dream was not lost. It was heartbreaking though. As this pandemic spread, the world became more contagious with thousands dying. At that point, I knew my whole year had been upended. I do believe that life is more important than sport, but when you focus all your energy into one goal, when you have timelines in place for an entire year, if not longer, how do you realign that year?
For someone of my age and background I was luckier than most. I finished my education. I’ve had careers and I hadn’t put my future on hold. I was doing what I loved doing but the younger athletes who had nothing but Tokyo on their minds were lost. Athletes who had put university on hold, careers on hold, life on hold, to focus on that one goal.
Para athletes are resilient though, they have been through tough times in life and have made it through the other side. We are a global family that sticks together and help each other through the good and the bad times, so I knew we would get through this.
We have all faced the unknown in 2020. For me it was whether the Paralympic games actually go ahead in 2021 or is its postponement taking me on an entirely new journey? The unknown of what the world will be like after this pandemic recedes, what will the new normal look like?
Only time will tell, but at least I have the lessons and wisdom learnt from years gone by. They have been passed down through the generations from family members who are now a distant memory. Stepping into the unknown was now what I was facing.
I hope that this book will help you face the unknown and take a leap of faith into the future
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” ~ Marilyn Monroe