I was 14, maybe 15, my first time here. I came with my friend, Samantha, who was scoping out a track club. I was scoping out a boy. Walking around the track I remember feeling drawn to this curious new world before me. Those hours of practice after school were about so much more than …
I lay still, exhaling through pursed lips until I could wince myself up onto the sofa. I unfisted my eyes to look at my hand. My right pinky had swelled into a lopsided stack of blueberries. I'd never seen such an ugly shade to my skin. Worse yet, I couldn't move my finger at all. My mind leaped to the petrifying place any athlete or gym rat's would. "Oh no, my training!"
Andrew was right there, coaching me through the final reps of a 140lb bench press, with a voice that boomed and turned every head in the gym. "C'mon Deb! Do it! I'm not touching the bar", he thundered. I finished the rep, racked the bar, sprung up from the bench and met his palm in mine. I'd found my trainer!
I must admit, until then, I had no idea who Andrew was or that sprint canoeing was a thing. In fact, canoeing would be among the last sports to come to mind in thinking about the Olympic games. But that didn't matter. Andrew represented Canada in Beijing where he competed alongside the best in the world. That impressed me immensely; that, and the brightness emanating from his cheerful personality, smile and efforts. Seriously, he was like the poster boy for Canadian sport.