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  • Tanis Browning-Shelp

Resiliency: A Young Athlete’s Super Power


Ottawa's recent flooding caused the cancellation of this year's high school rowing season

Last week, when I read the CBC news headline: “Flood washes away high school rowing season,” my heart went out to the affected Ottawa athletes.

The Ottawa Rowing Club had to cancel this year’s high school season because of high levels on the Ottawa River, preventing local teams from competing in their national championships.

These teenagers had put in countless hours of training over many months to prepare for this high-level competition. They were ready to leave their indoor rowing machines behind and get out onto the river when the treacherous waters made this impossible. Now they can’t get ready on time.

In a radio interview, one high school rower stated that nationals were the only thing she’d been thinking about all winter. This reminded me of my mountain bike racing heroine Maryn O’Brien and her singularity of focus at the beginning of the series.

These young rowers will have to surrender to the rising waters…let go of their plans and find a way to refocus on this summer’s competitions or perhaps, where applicable, on next year’s high school nationals.

For most people, regrouping like this would be a tall order. But athletes are extraordinary. Not only do they work astonishingly hard, sacrifice much, and apply laser focus to achieving their goals, but they also learn to pick themselves up after unexpected blows (such as a flood, an Olympic boycott, or an injury or, in the case of my latest book, an unexpected illness) and find the strength to re-focus…set a new goal…and keep on going at that highest level.

Through facing adversity and still moving forward, these young rowers will become more than just outstanding athletes, they will become tougher, wiser, more balanced humans!



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