Yesterday, I won my last Canadian Championship, but failed to jump the qualifying height for the Olympic Games. A bittersweet victory. After 8-Canadian Championship titles and being ranked number 1 in Canada for 16 years, this is my last and final year I will compete in the high jump. And I will not be competing in London.
I am not as “devastated” as one might have anticipated I would be. To say this year was tough is an understatement. In fact, it was exactly a year ago today I was diagnosed with a complete rupture of my posterior tibialis tendon. (This tendon is a big guy, starting from your inside ankle bone and wrapping under your foot to your toes. It holds your arch up in your foot and allows you to push off the ground with your big toe.) To sever this tendon is like jumping with no Achilles…. And I did it in less than a year without surgery! With the exception of Scotty Pippen, I am the only elite athlete known to ever have done that!
However, I did have some glutes/hip issues and that became my “real” injury… Literally, a real pain in the ass! At times I felt like my natural ability to jump had been stolen from me, like someone took my superpowers. To adjust for my injury, there were some technical changes made to my high jump, which only seemed to magnify the problem, and cause a strain on my relationship with my coach. The changes came from a good intentional place, but didn’t work for me. In truth, I spent a good portion of the year frustrated.
But, I also overcame it! I pushed through my fractured foot, ruptured tendon, non-working butt muscles, technical problems, and bruised confidence… I did it, as best I could and left all of myself on the track, yesterday. Without a doubt, I believe if I had just one more month I would have easily qualified for London, but, it is, what it is. In the words of Benjamin Button:
“You can be as mad as a mad dog at the way things went. You could swear, curse the fates, but when it comes to the end, you have to let go.”
And with that, I am okay, and savour the sweetness in ending my last Canadian Championship on an 8th victory… Glass half full, there is much for me to be thankful for! It’s hard to believe that this path I’ve been on as a world-class athlete for 14 years, occurred because Dave Hunt, a coach at the University of Toronto, stopped in for a Big Mac at McDonald’s on the day I just happened to be working there, and he asked me if I wanted to learn how to high jump. Many thanks to Dave, he has forever changed my life.
What I have achieved in track and field, I never could have dreamed it. I have been ranked top 10 in the world, in the most competitive sport in the world! With the exception of the Olympics and World Championships, I have medalled on every major games team I’ve been on. I have set more records than I can count, including the Canadian Championships and Olympic Trials record. I have travelled to places I never knew existed meeting some incredible people, who have helped to shape me. My view on what is possible in life is now limitless. And I am anxious to bring all that I’ve learned in the realm of Athletics to the real world of Life.
So, what’s next for me? A WHOLE LOT!!! I haven’t decided just yet if I am done competing this year. I might finish off my career with a few more competitions… or not. Who knows? But, beyond track I do have a burning desire to help change the culture of sport in Canada. I believe as a country we’re good but I know we can be great! (To go further into that topic is blog in of itself.)
Finally, I’d be remised if I didn’t thank the many people that have supported me and help me develop and last in the sport for as long as I have. I must thank my family, friends and manager (Alfons Juck), whose support has been the wings that have carried me over some high heights. My incredible medical team that have worked with me throughout my career have been angels in the dugout. Often times, you see these great performances by us the athletes, but don’t see the medical staff who are working overtime to get every fiber of our body working as it should. Thank you Visa for believing in me when others didn’t! I cannot say enough for what Visa has done for me. I might not have been an Olympian & Commonwealth Champion if it weren’t for their support! Mizuno and Oakley have been incredibly loyal and good to me as well! And a special, thank you to my strength trainer Dave Harris at Individual Performance, who has helped me in more ways than I count – emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. When I’ve been at my lowest he’s been there for me. Sometimes you can’t put a price on that kind of support. And I thank my coach James Henry, who took a chance on me when he offered me a full-scholarship to Michigan before I had even jumped anything special. A very loooooong athlete-coach relationship, with highs and lows we’ve been through a lot. Going to the University of Michigan has opened many doors for me and truly made me more than just an athlete. I am an academic first, and have been able to use this balance to not lose my identity in my sport. Being an athlete has always been something I do, but does not make me Nicole. This can be a hard lesson to learn for many athletes, and I’m glad I’ve learned it.
There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and in many ways that is the same when we talk about creating a world-class athlete. None of us can make it on our own and I’m just grateful to the support I’ve miraculously been able to have along the way.
8-Time Canadian Champion
20-Time National Team Member
Commonwealth Games Gold & Bronze Medalist
Pan American Games Silver & Bronze Medalist
Francophone Games Siler & Bronze Medalist
World University Silver Medalist
Canada Games Champion
Canadian Championship & Olympic Trials Record Holder
Big Ten Conference & Championship Record Holder
University of Michigan Record Holder
…And a believer in the impossible being possible!
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