I’m sitting here, reflecting on what happened in Rio and I still can’t believe it’s all over.
I was trying to write about my events and how I felt during those last Olympic dives, but to be completely honest, I just can’t. I guess I’m not over the fact that my Olympic journey has come to an end.
It hit me pretty hard when coaches and athletes around the world came to see me after my last dive to congratulate me on my career. At that moment I thought, “Wow it’s really the end of my Olympic dream. I am not even a 30-year-old woman and what I’ve been working on my whole life is coming to an end. It’s so weird!
The Rio Olympic games have been in my mind for four years.
Four years of hard work and dedication. Four years of putting diving first. Well, I’ve always put diving first, but this time around it was different. I was becoming the athlete I always wanted to be: Confident, strong, powerful and one of the best divers in the world in synchro and individual. Thanks to my coach Arturo Miranda who guided me this entire time.
The road to Rio was a tough one. Not only did I often go outside of my comfort zone to try to get better (it worked). But I also did whatever it took to be at my best. It includes the hours in the gym, too many dives to count, the food, the mental prep and the recovery. It wasn’t all sacrifices, believe me, I wanted all of that. My main goal in Rio was to have no regrets.
I wanted to stand on the edge of the platform with confidence and no regrets. I did all of the work and all I needed to do was trust the training.
I also needed to manage the nerves. The nerves that made me have nightmares for a couple of nights before the big day. I would of never of thought that even after experiencing two Olympics – my third one would be the most nerve racking one. I was just casually sitting around with the athletes and my heart rate would go up when we talked about the events. I even had tears sitting on the plane knowing that there was no turning back, that the final destination was Rio.
For those who watched the synchro event on Aug. 9, my reaction when Meaghan and I realized we made it to the podium was a combination of all the feeling I was holding inside for a very long time. I tried to hold back the tears, the panic, the excitement and the happiness, but at that moment, it felt like I had no control on my emotions anymore. The pressure had finally left my body. I really wanted to control my reaction though, but it was just too much to handle.
The bronze medal in synchro with Meg is like a gold to us. The past season has been extremely difficult. First of all, I broke my ankle in December of 2015 and I couldn’t walk until February. Second of all, we are finally able to compete in March, but Meg has do to all the adjustments since I’m not 100 per cent.
Adjusting your dives when you throw yourself of a 10m platform is not an easy task. You never do your dive holding back your strength, but Meaghan did. She did it for us. And when we nailed our last dive in the green pool and had to wait for the final ranking, the result didn’t matter anymore. We were just so proud of all the work and the way we carried ourselves this season. But you know, seeing the number 3 beside our name felt like we won gold.
The individual event is completely different from the synchro. In synchro, it’s straight to finals, and in individual, there are three rounds: preliminaries, semifinals and finals. Once I made it to the finals, I just wanted to go in there and have fun. I had nothing to lose. Again, my preparation was on point and there was nothing more I could of done to be ready. I wanted to let my body do the work.
As I was standing on top of the 10m platform for my fifth and final Olympic dive, I knew my chances of winning a medal in the event were over. The previous round where I completely missed, took me out of the third spot I was in.
Up there, waiting for the referee to blow the whistle, I was upset. I still couldn’t believe how bad my previous dive was. I walked to the edge of the tower thinking that I have to let go of that last dive and that this one is going down. “There is no way in hell I’m finishing this competition on a bad note,” I told myself.
I have not worked this hard to give up on the last dive. This is not who I am and this is not how I wanted it to end. A back-two-and-a-half-sommersault with one-and-a-half twists, the dive that gave us a bronze the week before, was going to be my last mark in Rio. Under water, I could hear the screams. That last dive was perfect. Straight nines from the judges.
Just like that, my third and final Olympics as an athlete were over. I made my Olympic journey a lifestyle and I can’t wait to see what’s next, even though I don’t really know what that means right now.
I’m enjoying some well-deserved time off and taking advantage of the time I have to work on many projects. I’m going back to school and opening a business with my family. I’m definitely not short on ideas but I can say for sure that I still have the rings on my mind.
Photos by Kevin Light / CBC Sports