March 30,2006 - Melbourne Experience

I had an amazing experience in Melbourne! Walking into the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (I very historic and famous stadium) with 80,000+ screaming fans was absolutely breath-taking. Although most were Aussie fans, when I took a full-circle view of the stadium I saw quite a few Canadian flags interspersed among the crowd. That was a truly proud moment for me, knowing that I had worked so hard to be there and finally I was able to have the opportunity to absorb and enjoy it.

A couple really neat things happened following my entrance into the track and during my races. First, when I stepped on the line for the prelims of the 1500m (I don't think I've ever been that nervous) I heard a voice nearby yell "Let's go Canada," when I looked over the voice was coming from the inside of the track (obviously no fans are allowed in this area). It was coming from Mark Boswell (Gold Medalist in these Games in the men's high jump). He was also competing and was between jumps and took the time to yell for us right before the race. That definitely got me pumped up!

Next, during the race (the prelims) I found myself in the front leading with one of the other Canadians, Malindi Elmore. This was a really cool feeling! I heard the announcer talk about two Canadians leading the field and I thought to myself, "Wow, I've led races before, but never this big!" I really felt proud to be Canadian at that moment leading the race with another teammate, it gave me a lot of confidence and I knew then that I would make the final. It's very uplifting to be at the front of a race with the entire stadium cheering and watching you. I'll definitely have to give this a try at the Olympics!!!

When I finished this race in third, I was clear of the final (top-4 in each prelim qualify). When I crossed the line I heard a familiar voice yell my name from the stands. When I turned around, there was Trent and his friends waving, about 10 metres from the finish line in the front row! I was amazed to actually see him while I was on the track, as it's tough to get that good of seats. The best part was that he convinced his whole section around him (who were mostly Australian) to cheer for me!

Finally, the night of the final was unbelievable. I was pretty nervous, but confident going in to the race. I figured I had nothing to lose and was going to give it my all and try to be up with the top group as much as I could to give myself the opportunity for a medal. When I stepped on the line, I took a look around and absorbed the feeling. I was pretty pumped to be there. As the race got underway (I didn't notice while racing, but Trent said this later), it was like the crowd followed us. As we ran around the track the screaming of the crowd moved with us. Coming down the homestretch was absolutely overwhelming. It was so loud that you couldn't even here yourself running or breathing! It was like you were running into the noise as you got closer to the finish. Crazy!

Overall, I think I ran a strong and aggressive race. I got bumped and boxed a bit, which threw me off a little, but that's typical of championship racing. And, being able to deal with and race under these conditions comes with experience and a bit of luck! Although I didn't finish as high as I'd like, I am happy I was competitive in the final and still up for a grab at a medal until about the last 300m. But this just gives me more drive to be there and have a go at a medal in future championships/games, whether it be Commonwealth, World Champs or Olympics. For anyone that's interested, here is a list of the major championship that I'll be looking to, leading up to 2008:

July 2007 - Pan America Games - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
August 2007 - World Track and Field Championships - Osaka, Japan
March 2008 - World Indoor Track and Field Championships - Valencia, Spain
August 2008 - Olympic Games - Beijing, China

Check out my Melbourne photo gallery here>>























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