Remembering our trailblazer heading into Winter Olympics

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The Olympics remain to many people the ultimate stage in amateur sport. The opportunity for any athlete to challenge themselves in front of the world is the thrill of a lifetime. We take a little extra measure of pride watching our home-grown athletes perform.

Remembering Sarah

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The SCDSB has had several former students involved in the Olympics over the years, but one trailblazer in particular comes to mind this year—former Midland Secondary School (MSS) student Sarah Burke.

Burke, who attended MSS until Grade 11 when she moved to train more intensively for her sport, was a tremendously talented freestyle skier, who, through her determination and   force of will, led the movement to include halfpipe and slopestyle events for women in the Olympics. These events will debut in Sochi. While Sarah tragically lost her life in a training accident in 2012, thus denied her Olympic opportunity, her memory will live on in the first 24 women, including local Huntsville native Dara Howell, who will be the very first females to compete in these events.

Someone has to be first to open the doors and establish the opportunity where none existed before.  Sarah accepted challenges at the highest level of competition winning many international events. These challenges did not become obstacles, merely a way to get to the next level.

And Sarah reminded us that the Olympic Games are not just two weeks in February, but a journey that starts years before in training, in dreaming and in trailblazing.

Taking it to the next level
The Sochi Olympics are the follow up to Canada’s winter sport athletes’ “coming-of-age” party: the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The 2010 Games allowed Canadians to step out of their own shadow and not just be happy to compete, but to set lofty goals, have a plan and exceed expectations. With these big dreams came big results and a record medal count.  It was an opportunity provided by the combined efforts of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Sport Canada, corporate sponsors and the Own the Podium program of excellence.

While the Olympic opportunity occurs only every four years, the striving, goal setting and aspiration to excel happens daily in our schools and our communities. Opportunities are created by event hosts, coaches, parents and other community supporters to help athletes reach that next level.  It’s a long journey, featuring dedication, sacrifice, discipline and perseverance.  Some athletes currently competing in Simcoe County will have a future Olympic moment of their own—it is the challenge that makes sports great.

Citius altius forties. Faster higher stronger. This is the Olympic ideal for performance. It defines the journey and all that it takes to get there.

This Olympics I will cheer loudly for every Canadian athlete and I will admire great performance from athletes of any country. I will be thinking of Sarah Burke, and how her missed opportunity became something so much bigger—a legacy for female snow sport athletes worldwide.

Go Canada Go!

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