Today is my last full day in London, and the women’s Triathlon, which took place this morning in Hyde Park, was the last stop on my list of sporting events. Of the 55 women who participated, two of them were representing Canada: Paula Findlay and Kathy Tremblay.
I have to say that although all the events I’ve watched have featured athletes doing impressive things in their own right (swimming to break world records, doing dangerous dives, rowing across 2km, etc.), what these brave women were about to do just seemed unimaginable when it comes to endurance. The feat: a 1,500m swim, followed by a 43km bike ride, and finished by a 10 km run.
To say the race did not go well for both our athletes would be an understatement. Tremblay crashed her bike in the cycling portion of the triathlon, and did not finish.
Paula Findlay suffered a hip injury in the past year, and although she was supposedly fine before the race, she seemed to be struggling pretty much throughout the event, which lasted a little bit over two hours. I was surrounded by a small group of Canadians, all of whom were cheering her on every time she passed in front of where were standing.
At one point, they showed her up on the big screen, and she seemed to have stopped during the run portion. For a few seconds, it seemed as though she would not be able to continue. But she did.
When she passed by us again just a few meters away from the end of her run, she was sobbing. When a few fellow Canadians extended their hands to hi-five her and offered words of encouragement (“We love you Paula, way to go!”), she shook her head in disappointment. She was last to finish, but it was not only Canadians who were cheering her on as she crossed the finish line: she did it to the sound of the entire crowd applauding.
I’m certain Paula Findlay has had better days (many of them, actually), but although she won’t be bringing home a medal this time around, she will definitely be remembered for giving it her all and courageously deciding to finish her race.
P&G (who sponsor Paula) have created a series of videos entitled Raising an Olympian for their Thank You Mom campaign. Here’s the one about Paula Findlay and her mom, Sheila.
I was heartbreaking to watch Paula struggle this morning, but really inspiring to see her keep at it. Luckily, her family is here in London to help support her and “be a safe place” for her, as her mom says in the video.