Monday 20 February 2012

My first love affair

As a child I fantasized about making the Olympic gymnastic team. I wanted to be Nadia Comaneci. At 11 years of age, I was “in training” at my middle school. Being a member of the Golden Eagles gymnastic team was, for me, as important as being in the Olympics. I took it seriously. I would get myself out of bed at 6am several times a week, and walk to school in the dark to make my 7am practice. There was no one to push me, no one to drive me there, and no one to watch my progress. This was my thing. I was in love – that honest-to-goodness, pure as the freshly-fallen-snow kind of love.

My practices were hard. Bloody blusters on my hands were common, but I wore them like a badge of honour. Tears were also common, as many flips started with flops, a bumped head, bruised hips – it didn’t matter. Nothing could tear me away from the gym. I was scared most of the time. Falling off the beam and bars always hurt, but perfecting a move made it worth the effort.

In the end, my body betrayed me. I was not built for that sport, nor did I have the raw natural talent that was needed. But that never took away from the passion I felt. I earned a few ribbons and a mountain of understanding (about myself). Gymnastics gave me more life-lessons than I could ever put into words.

There are no pictures of that little, determined girl. Nothing to hold in my hand. But my memories are vivid and they fuel me everyday.  

Missed first place. I fell off the beam :(


  1. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. In 1976 you were 9 and I was 12. We were both glued to the TV watching Nadia make history. Both of us in our leotards, stretching while she got one perfect 10 after another.
    Mr. Westwood (coach, gym teacher, all round nice person), did more for me at that age to improve my self esteem than another adult. He always caught me when I fell.
    To all the coaches, teachers and mentors out there...thanks for catching us when we fall.

  2. I am happy that you kept the "Experience" alive, but even more surprised that you kept the certificate and adorning ribbon...... And, you knew where to find it.