There’s a song that often comes to mind when I’m boarding a plane: John Denver’s ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’. But unlike the lyrics in the song, I know when I’ll be back again – on August 14th and hopefully wearing a medal around my neck.

It’s always fun to arrive at the airport with the nervous excitement of travel and the fear that your bag might be overweight.  Yesterday was no different.  The day was filled with goodbyes, well wishes and last minute errands before leaving.  When I arrived at the airport, I was informed that I was upgraded to business class… YES!

The luxury of business class might seem indulgent but the benefit of the extra room makes a huge difference on my knees and muscles. As an amateur athlete, it’s often out of my budget so when it was generously offered by one of my sponsors, I jumped at it. Thanks, Steve.

The challenge for all athletes as we prepare for the flight is ensuring proper hydration and avoiding germs at all costs.  The risk of sickness is already higher when living in closer quarters with thousands of athletes in the Olympic Village that we are instructed to avoid handshakes, hugs or kisses and to ensure that we’re aware of everything that we’re eating.

Photo By MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

The flight was only delayed for 12 minutes and uneventful – I’m thankful for that. The Air Canada crew was excited by the number of athletes on board and we had the opportunity to meet and greet the Captain and First Officer. Thank you Air Canada for a great ride to London!

Heathrow was busy – as usual – and we were running a little late. We walked off the plane and claimed our bags and could already feel the anticipation and excitement. The reality of the OLYMPICS really set in when we  touched down in London. The city is full of the Olympic spirit. From the customs officers, the airport greeters, the banners and artwork, everything is London 2012.  Even though this wasn’t my first time at Heathrow, everything just felt new.

During the Olympics, the Canadian athletes, their coaches and families have access to the Canada House in Trafalgar square as a place to watch the events, cheer on their fellow Canadians and socialize with other Canadians. Hopefully I can pay a visit during my time in London.

More tomorrow on the Olympic Village, our accommodations and food!

As we prepare to leave for London tomorrow evening, this is one of the last opportunities that I will have to work out in the comforts of home, Skyriders Trampoline Place.

Skyriders is my home away from home. It’s the place where I met my husband, where I’ve built life long friendships and where I’ve formed a bond with my coach, Dave Ross, who has seen us travel the world to compete for Canada.  In terms of winning World Cup events and Olympic medals, Dave is probably the most accomplished coach in Canada but you would never know it by meeting or talking with him.  I could not have accomplished any of my goals without Dave.  When we get to the Olympics, it will be Dave who tests the trampoline stability, looks for little things and manages our workouts and access to the media so that we can achieve our goal.  There’s little public glory for our coach but we all know how proud he is when we give it our all.  Dave owns and built Skyriders because of his passion for the sport and I am truly thankful.  Where would I have been without Skyriders and this crazy, passionate entrepreneur who built this place?  I love Skyriders and hope to be associated with the club for many years to come.

The familiar smells and sounds of home and knowing that our preparation has been as good as any athlete in the world is what gives us huge comfort and confidence as we move forward to London.  Our workout today will last 4 hours and will focus on every aspect of each routine.  Striving for height and perfect form, we repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it until we are satisfied with the quality of the routine.  After the workout comes the ice bath – yes, the ice bath! Every time I say it, I start to get cold but it’s the best relief for my muscles and joints.

When I leave Skyriders today it will not be the last time I will be there but it will be a moment that I will never forget, it has been home for so many years.  We are heading to the world stage, knowing that we are ready, because of the training Skyriders has provided.

To my friends and family at Skyriders, the young athletes, my fellow world class athletes, the volunteers, coaches, Rosie and Jason and especially Dave Ross… thank you.

As I begin to think about packing for London, I’m starting to become concerned about the amount of clothes I need to take.

In Sydney, Athens and Beijing, the weather was predictable: hot and humid.  I’ve been watching the weather forecast for London and I almost feel like I should be calling some of my winter Olympic colleagues and seeing if I can borrow a sweatshirt or two!

No, seriously though, packing for an Olympics is not easy.  I’ll be gone for 3 weeks and during that time, there are the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Olympic functions, several days of training, and of course, the competition. My carry-on will be filled with everything vital to my competition: leotards, trampoline slippers, tape for my feet, vitamins and of course, my pillow!

When we arrive, we’ll receive all of our official Canadian Olympic team clothing from HBC but we still have to bring our own clothes for training and to supplement what they give us.  It’s tough because none of our clothing can have brand logos of any kind (according to Olympic rules). This is hard for someone like me who lives in Brooks and Lululemon gear.

I’m reminded that I’ll also need to save some room in my luggage to bring home souvenirs I might acquire along the way in London. Trust me, a new medal will never need to go home in my suitcase!

London is a city that holds so much charm and I’m so excited to go to London for the Olympics. This will be my parents’ first trip to London and I think they may be more excited about seeing London than they are the Olympics. Maybe.

Packing for the Olympics is exciting and with each item I put in my bag, it becomes more real!  I’m ready, my bags are almost packed and I can’t wait to get to London!

Any suggestions on whether I should take a rain coat?

Over my last 12 years as an Olympic athlete, one of the questions I’m always asked in interviews is “Who is your inspiration?”

People are probably curious to know if a famous athlete or sporting event had an impact on my life. Over the years, I’ve been inspired by great athletes and their achievements. For instance, I was incredibly inspired by our athletes at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and their passion is one of the reasons why I decided to pursue a fourth Olympic Games.

However, the greatest sources of inspiration for me are the people in my life who have been there for me every step of the way.

My inspiration always has been and continues to be the love and support of my family: my grandmother, my parents, my brother, my husband and his entire family. I’m forever indebted to them for their devotion to helping me achieve my goals. I’ve been so blessed by my family’s support. They obviously want me to perform well and achieve my best, but their expectations don’t create any level of stress or pressure.

As I approach my fourth Olympic Games, I often think of my grandmother. It’s clear that I’m blessed to have an amazing example in her by the way she has lived her life. She was 86 when I went to my first games and I remember how excited she was for me.

Now, she’s still very much excited but she’s dealing with her own health challenges that are far more important. At 98, she has shown she’s a great fighter and has amazing resilience. I approach London 2012, I’ll draw upon her resilience and determination as my inspiration.

The depth of competition for these Games has never been so steep.  I’ve been blessed to have stood on the podium at each Olympics so far and it’s my goal to dig deep and fight hard to stand there one more time.

To all my family and especially my grandmother, thank you.

Two weeks today, I will be waking up to compete in Women’s Trampoline at the London Olympics. The day will start with therapy, meals, mental training and the commute to the venue along with my fellow competitors.  Walking into the venue is the point where I’ll likely experience my first butterflies.

I know my parents and my husband will be in the stands, right there with me, cheering me on.  The reality will quickly set in that this is it, the time is now and the hard work and mental preparation must kick in.  I’ll be extremely focused on the task at hand and that will hopefully help me come home with another medal.

Every competitor at the Olympics is extremely capable and the depth of the field is incredible.  Just to make it to the Olympics, each of these trampoline athletes had to place in the top 16 of the 78 competing at the World Championships. These athletes are the best of the best.

The main competition may be my teammate Rosie MacLennan – she has been jumping incredibly well and she is one of the best and most consistent female trampolinists in the world. I believe that if it is our day, we’ll need to overcome the tough Chinese and European athletes as well.

The competition format will be different at this Olympics than in Beijing as the organizers have decided to host the qualifications and finals competitions on the same day.  I have experienced this format before as it was used in Sydney and Athens.  We’ll start with a two stage qualification which will include a 10 trick compulsory routine and then a 10 trick optional routine.  The top 8 women will qualify for the finals and will have another attempt at the 10 trick optional routine.  The whole process takes about 2 hours from the start to the medal presentation.  I’m ready as I ever will be… lots of pain and soreness, but that’s to be expected going into the Olympics.

Two weeks today, I’ll have shown the best that I can do on the day and I know that I’ll have made my family and friends proud. My hope is to also make my country proud.  I’m very proud to be a Canadian and to be competing for my country. GO CANADA GO!

 

One week from today, I’ll be marching into the Olympic stadium celebrating the opening of my fourth Olympic Games. Each of the Games is clear in my memory and each holds a special place.

When I arrived at my first Olympic Games in 2000 in Sydney, it was hard to believe that trampoline had finally become an Olympic sport and that I had qualified. I was an excited 19 year old, looking forward to marching in the Opening Ceremonies, an event I had watched on TV growing up and only dreamed of participating in. I left with a surprise bronze medal and so did my eventual husband, Mathieu. I got to experience the magic of the Olympics and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of again.

In 2004, in Athens, the birthplace of the Olympics, I felt I was as ready as I could be and my expectations were high. My concentration levels were at their peak and I was ready to stand on the podium and I left with a silver medal.

In 2008, in Beijing, the competition for trampoline was unbelievable, which included my teammate Rosie McLennan. My expectations this time around were actually low as I was coming off an injury. I wasn’t as nervous my third time around and in the end, maybe that’s why I was able to walk away with a silver medal. With my third medal, I also had the honour of carrying the Canadian flag at the Closing Ceremony.

Now with London just around the corner, I feel the same anticipation building with each passing day.

In London, there will be over 10,000 athletes competing for 912 podium positions. For many of us, this culminates many years of effort, preparation, injury, therapy and healing for our one moment on the world stage. It’s an honor to represent your country, to stand tall, proud and say “I will give my everything and do my best to represent you”. London 2012 is a week away – friendships will be formed and strengthened, rivalries will be made and the competition and pressure will be at its highest.

London, here we come.