To say this past week at the Pan-Am Championships had its fair share of excitement is an understatement. After what was the easiest travel to a race we have ever had (3.5 hours, direct flight) we settled into the Marriott Airport hotel temporarily for the night, as we would not be going into official accommodation until the next day.
Early the next morning we departed as planned for the velodrome. First thoughts from just an easy ride on the track were: holy smokes this track is fast! Huge thank you goes out to Peter Junek for building ALL of my favourite tracks in the world, including this one in Mexico City.
After our quick spin we got the news from the organizers that instead of staying in the dorm-style residences at Mexico’s National Training Center, we were going to be staying in a real hotel. That was great news….so we thought…
Race day approached, and first up was the team sprint. We went in with the goal of improving on our previously set Canadian record of 44.1, and that is exactly what we did. With the three of us exceeding our own expectations we pulled together a new record of 43.6, qualifying us behind Venezuela in second place. Going into the finals, we knew we had some ground to make up, so we made the decision to be extra aggressive on the exchanges, trying to squeeze every last tenth out of ourselves. While we narrowed the gap between us and Venezuela, it wasn’t enough, and we took home the silver. Overall everyone on the team did a great job, and we are even more motivated to crack the top step on the podium next time.
Arriving home from the track, I found my roommate Scott, in a terrible condition, having come down with what appeared to be food poisoning It wouldn’t be long before nearly everyone got sick from eating at the hotel restaurant. And to be honest, this was the most violent food poisoning I have ever seen. It hit it’s target suddenly, and relegated them to their bed for at least 24 hours.
The next morning rolled around, and the decision was made that Scott would not be able to ride the keirin that day. This meant that I would be riding it instead. Scrambling to get my gear packed up, I got myself mentally and physically ready for this change in plans. I arrived at the track, ready to race, only to find out that the commissaire would not allow this last minute change in riders. Pleading my case was no use. The commisaire would not allow a change unless it was made 24hrs prior to the event, even if the original rider was ill. I went home disappointed, but as I am starting to believe more and more, everything happens for a reason.
Two days later, it was time for the sprint tournament. Having been disappointed with my 200m at the World Cup in Aguscalientes a few weeks ago, I knew this was my chance to redeem myself. I went out for the 200m qualifier, and gave it everything I had. When I saw the time, I almost did a double take.
I had set a new Canadian Record, and Pan-American Record of 9.802!!! While the Pan-Am record was short lived, my qualifying time was good to put me in a strong position for the sprint rounds. The first day of sprinting started with a minor hiccup, but as the day went on, my tactics improved, and I was able to make it through the day without losing a heat. This meant that I made it to the semi’s the following day. Already, this would be my best individual result at an international event. But I couldn’t stop there; this was an opportunity, and I had to take full advantage of it!
In the semi’s, I executed my race exactly as planned, and won two straight, putting me against Canelon from Venezuela in the finals. The finals were hard fought, and again I executed the moves I wanted to, but in the end it wasn’t enough. I came home with the silver medal, my best placing at an international competition. The experience and lessons learned from these sprint rounds will be invaluable. I am already looking forward to the 2015 PanAm Games here at home in Toronto, and beyond.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that each and every single day, you have to take one small step towards the end goal. I’ve had my share of ups and downs since the Games, but I am always at my best when I take a step back, and focus on the daily processes. The improvements are never immediate, but slowly and surely, every percent adds up.