|| Canadian Olympian Triathlete Sharon Donnelly ||
|Sharon's FrontPage Archive 2004|
|December 19, 2004 - Donnelly focused on helping next generation|
By ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun
Retirement hasn't exactly left Sharon Donnelly scrambling for something to do. The former Orleans resident, who's officially ended her run with Triathlon Canada's national/Olympic team program, might almost be busier without that commitment.
Consider what Donnelly, who now calls Pittsburgh Twp. home, has cooking in the few months ahead: Teaching phys ed on contract at St. Lawrence College, race director of a new triathlon in Kingston, motivational speaking, volunteer coaching with the Kingston Blue Marlins swim team, and some freelance writing courses.
Oh, and she still plans to do some elite-level racing in Canada and the U.S.
"I've already got a full plate," said Donnelly, 37, who also sits on the executive board at Royal Military College and is working on her coaching certification.
It's the latter item that will fuel Donnelly's desire to help the next generation of triathletes, perhaps even guiding one to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
"I'd love to go to Beijing in some capacity, preferably as a coach," she said. "I really want to help the next ones. I think we've got a great group of girls coming through.
"I achieved so many goals that I set out for myself. Now it's my turn to help and pay back."
Donnelly represented Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, finishing 38th following a bike crash. She fell 22 seconds short of making it to the Athens Games at the final qualifying event in Edmonton in July, but walked away with no regrets.
"To come from where I had been in February (when she suffered a torn shoulder muscle) ... it was the perfect race," she said. "Somebody just had a better day.
"But I couldn't have had a better race."
|December 18, 2004 - The marks of a warrior, the will of a champion|
The marks of a warrior, the will of a champion: Sharon Donnelly reflects on career as she retires from World Cup circuit
The Kingston Whig-Standard - Saturday, December 18, 2004
By: Patrick Kennedy
The oversized coin, still among the smaller pieces of bric-a-brac inside the tastefully cluttered corner cabinet, is no less eye-catching. The shimmering silver colour helps, as does, upon closer inspection, the familiar symbol engraved near the bottom, the five interlocking rings of an Olympiad.
Alas, it's but a ceremonial coin presented to all athletes at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and clearly not the kind Sharon Donnelly dreamed of winning in the months and minutes before the inaugural women's triathlon four years ago.
And here's a doozy of a sports oddity: The shiny medallion serves at once as a lasting reminder of both the high and low moments from Donnelly's exemplary career.
"Isn't that sick!" she exclaims on the rarity. "But it's true - my best and worst moments, both from the same event."
She bursts out laughing.
"Pumpkin" - the nickname she acquired and left behind in childhood - is now 37 going on 28, her age belied by a youthful appearance and a perpetuating cheerfulness.
The body? Ahh, that's a different story. The body is a 1967 model no matter how you look at it. Assorted nicks and numb spots serve as mementoes of mishaps from old. A surgical scar less than a year old snakes down from the left shoulder. In some areas, new layers of skin have long ago replaced old ones grated away in nasty collisions with pavement.
All of which means this: If you are an elite triathlete gunning for a berth on the 2008 Canadian Olympic team, 37 turns into 40 mighty fast and all of a sudden top-tier triathlon doesn't quite have the same appeal.
"I really would have liked to compete in 2005 and maybe at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, but the next Olympics? I'd be way too old," she concedes. "Why take the [government] funding and maybe take a spot away from the next person coming up if you're not seriously looking to qualify [for the Olympics]."
The Scarborough native, lauded by former national team coach Barrie Shepley prior to the Sydney Games as "the most focused triathlete I've met, maybe the most focused athlete period," has always strived to finish what she starts. And after two straight seasons hampered by illness and injury, and time marching on, Donnelly was unwilling to commit to another four-year project.
Accordingly, this week's visit from a reporter finds her two weeks into retirement from the World Cup circuit and one week into her and husband Maj. Dave Rudnicki's bright, airy new home east of the town, hard by Treasure Island.
"All the races I've done, the 40-some World Cups, the many different championship races, the Pan-Am Games, the Commonwealth Games - they all sort of blend in when I look back," she points out.
"Not the Olympics. I remember every single detail."
As for the aforementioned commemorative coin and the contrasting images it conjures up, fortunately Donnelly's best moment ran considerably longer than her worst.
She experienced, first-hand, the delights and drama of participating in one of these renowned carnivals of exercise. The Pan-Am Games gold medal and the three Canadian championships notwithstanding, she treasures mostly the race Down Under that bestowed upon her the enduring title of Olympian.
The worst moment lasted all of four or five seconds, or however long it took for three bikes to pile up at 45 kilometres per hour.
On the second loop of the 40-km bike ride, Donnelly's carbon-built two-wheeler went down in a heap when two bikes directly in front touched wheels and crashed. She somersaulted over her handlebars and on to the Sydney asphalt, hopes for a place on the podium dashed on the spot.
Bloodied and bruised, she carried her broken bike until a volunteer fetched her a new back wheel.
Undaunted, she completed the triathlon. In her one and only Olympics, Donnelly* came home 38th, meaning only 37 others on the face of the earth were faster. Put in perspective, if you're the world's 38th-best anything - lawyer, reporter, nurse, carpenter, architect, whatever - you're walking in high clover.
What many remember is not where she finished but that she finished.
"When we finally came out [after the ill-fated second loop] she was bleeding and banged up from an obvious fall - and still she kept going!" recalls longtime friend Ken Parker, whose Ottawa-based Sirius Consulting Group was Donnelly's first and longest-serving corporate sponsor. "She was determined to finish in spite of everything that happened.
"That cemented it for us in terms of confirming whether we picked the right athlete to support. The way Sharon dealt with the spill, her sheer will to go on, the way she dealt with the whole ordeal after the race, it was all truly inspiring.
"Sharon has a calm, positive, professional demeanor," adds Parker, whose company flew the athlete's husband and mother to Australia for the Games. "She's well-spoken, sincere and confident - not cocky. The way she competed and carried herself professionally impressed on us that this was the type of athlete we'd be proud to help."
Local businesses, too, generously supported the top-flight triathlete. Empire Financial Group, Kingston Volkswagen Audi and the law firm of Nelson Tranmer were instrumental in helping *Donnelly* fulfil her dream.
"To be an Olympian, one has to live an Olympian's life each and every day," lawyer Gary Tranmer said in announcing Donnelly's withdrawal from World Cup competition. "This means more than athletic excellence. It means taking on a leadership role as a person, volunteer, member of the community, member of the country, a friend, a family member, and living that role at a world-class standard. Sharon ... lives and breathes that Olympic standard every day."
Retirement from the circuit will afford Donnelly more time for several new challenges such as: part-time phys-ed teacher at St. Lawrence College; part-time coach with the Blue Marlins swim club (as a 17-year-old she narrowly missed making the 1984 Canadian OIympic swim team); member of the executive board at RMC (the couple's alma mater); race director for the inaugural base-sponsored Limestone Charity Tri (May 29); national spokeswoman for an 11-race women's triathlon series commencing in 2005; athlete's representative for Triathlon Canada. And so on.
There's also the new two-storey home in a treed neighbourhood a stone's throw from Lake Ontario.
"The house is on our bike route, which was important for both of us, and it's an easy commute from Dave's work - eight kilometres, door to door." A moment passes before a listener realizes she means a motorless commute. "We just have one car. So he can run to work in the morning or run home at night."
Although no longer competing in World Cup events, *Donnelly* plans to race triathlons in North America.
One other undertaking is in the works, a plan that, if successful, supersedes all others: motherhood.
"We're trying," says Pumpkin, all grown up and ready for new challenges.
Donnelly Went Out Fighting
Recuperating from shoulder surgery last February and still bent on making the 2004 Canadian Olympic triathlon team, Sharon *Donnelly* ventured to Boulder, Colo., where she trained under renowned coach and former world champion Sirl Lindley.
"What she managed to accomplish in just two months of training was simply phenomenal," recalled a vacationing Lindley on the phone from Australia.
Donnelly needed to finish as top Canuck at last year's Canadian Championships in Edmonton in order to qualify for her second Olympiad. She placed second by a mere 22 seconds.
"To do what she did, to come that close after such a short amount of serious [post-surgery] training, it shows you how great an athlete Sharon is."
The Edmonton gig turned out to be the last world-class event for the 37-year-old Donnelly, who recently retired from the World Cup circuit.
Remarkably, out of the 89 triathlons she entered in her career, she can count on one hand the number of times she failed to finish.
No Gain Without Pain
- 2000 Olympian
- 1999 rotator cuff injury prior to Pan-Am Games in Manitoba; requires cortizone shot night before race
|December 4, 2004 - Sharon Retires|
Donnelly ends career as triathlete competitor
Martin Cleary, The Ottawa Citizen
If former Gloucester triathlete Sharon Donnelly attends the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, it's more likely she'll go as a coach rather than as an athlete.
The 1999 Pan Am Games gold medallist announced late Thursday night at a farewell gathering in Kingston she had retired from the national women's triathlon team. She could become a Level 4 coach by 2007, which would allow her to be eligible to take the Canadian team to the Olympics.
Donnelly, 37, was expected to inform Triathlon Canada today of her retirement. She will continue to compete in non-World Cup, world championship and Olympic competitions.
"I thought about going to 2005, but for the past two years my body has gone through a lot," she said, referring to a torn calf muscle and a torn shoulder muscle. "It gets harder and harder to race at that level. I don't want to push and spend weeks in physiotherapy."
Donnelly, who competed in more than 40 World Cup meets and finished with 25 Top-10 results and three medals, placed 38th in her first and only Olympics in 2000. A bike crash hurt her chances for a quality result, which came two years later with an eighth at the 2002 world championships.
She missed qualifying for the third and final spot on the Canadian team to the 2004 Athens Olympics by 22 seconds.
Donnelly, however, is keeping busy as a sports consultant. She is the athlete rep for Triathlon Canada, sits on the Royal Military College executive board and will be a contract phys-ed teacher in January at St. Lawrence College in Kingston
|November 16, 2004 - November 2004 Update|
First I would like to thank you for being so supportive of me for not only this year, but the past quadrennial. As you all know, I narrowly missed making the Athens Olympic team by 22 seconds in the qualification race in Edmonton this summer. I think if the margin were greater, I would have been better prepared to handle the disappointment. Having my mom and brother present in Edmonton to give me support meant everything in the world to me. I know Dave was with me in spirit (as well as on the cell phone) from his base in Bosnia.
As an alternate for the Olympic team, I continued to train and race up to the Olympic Games triathlon event, in the case an athlete became injured. But I never got the call to go to Athens and I made a decision at that point to call it a season. I had put my body through so much this year that it was not worth it to finish off the World Cup season. (I wrote a submission onto my website about the struggles I had earlier this year so I urge you to view it at http://www.sharondonnelly.com).
I feel that my season was a huge success given that in February, I was contemplating quitting the sport due to a shoulder injury I had sustained. But instead, I refocused on the Edmonton race as my goal to push my rehabilitation from the shoulder surgery and see what could happen. I didn't tell many people about my injury for the reason that I didn't want my competition to know and to avoid the inevitable reminders when I returned to racing. I cannot express in words how thankful I am to the small group upon whom I leaned for support, and for everyone else for understanding this decision.
In April, I was only beginning to get a proper swim stroke going. Come May, relief and frustration were both present as I was finally able to sleep through the night without pain, but my progress in the pool was painfully slow. But it all came together in June, when I was finally able to do swim sets with my training partner, Susan Williams, USA (she won the bronze medal in Athens). It gave me a big boost of confidence going into Edmonton.
The Edmonton race went pretty much to my plan, except those that were out of my control - my competitors. Samantha McGlone had a great tactical race and she had the guts to do a breakaway move in the bike portion that allowed her to start the run in an even better position, one that I knew would make it a close race. It often comes down to who has it on the day - and she did!
I watched the Olympic Games and reported on them for the Kingston radio and TV stations. The few weeks mental break after Edmonton really helped me to accept my performance and respect those of the competitors in Athens. Since the Olympic Games, I have been extremely busy, thus my delay in sending out updates! But from speaking with many of you, the busy schedule is the same for you!
I will run through a list of some of my recent and ongoing activities, below but I want to highlight a few of them. :
· I was elected on for a 3 year term to the Royal Military College Executive board and committed to help their Red & White campaign (help ex-cadets to recruit RMC cadets).
· NCCP Level 3 Theory Course - Sept/Oct
I am very excited to be more involved in my Alma Mater, RMC as I gained so much from my time there and I believe that it offers so much. I foresee myself travelling to various locations in Canada for both triathlon and my new RMC role in the 2005.
Speaking in Toronto at the Better Transportation Expo was a highlight for me as the focus was alternate transportation modes and new environmentally friendly vehicle design. Meeting David Suzuki and listening to him talk was incredibly inspiring; he truly is one of the most amazing Canadians (I put Terry Fox first).
The Sport Leadership Conference was a first for me as I want to start to branch into some coaching. The conference was great for learning new concepts, ideas, stories and meeting some great people who are all so encouraging and open for help. A bonus was that it took place in Winnipeg, and it was my first time back to that city since I won my Pan Am Gold Medal in 1999. (And yes, I did bring my medal with me for memory sake and to show to the groups I would be meeting in Northern Manitoba after the conference)
The Pas, Northern Manitoba was an incredible experience. It is so easy to just stay close to home, but I want to reach people and small communities that don't have the same access as we enjoy. My host, James Wilson who invited me, definitely made up for this and had my whole day scheduled to the minute! It was exhausting but I wanted to reach as many people as I could and the only way was to fill my day completely. (Newspaper Article)
I arrived on Halloween night and it was certainly a perfect night for it. I could imagine a wolf howling at the low set moon, the tree tops touching the star filled night sky. It was refreshing to see no light pollution. Monday 1st of November I was in the gymnasiums and classrooms of both the town school and the school on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN). I then had time for a muffin and off to host a 3 hour Kids of Steel clinic. Given the range of ages from 7-16 and an equal range in abilities, you can imagine the task ahead of me! There were about a dozen kids with a few coming 1.5hrs from Flin Flon . One in particular, Tron , I noticed was out of breath when he first arrived and I learned later that he had run over 10km from his home on the OCN Reserve to get to the clinic!).
Tues morning found me tramping around with 4 girls (14-15yrs old), on their hunting and fishing class. The Reserve school has a great program that has been running for three years aimed at teaching the kids about hunting, trapping, fishing and wilderness survival in the Northern Bush. It was extremely interesting and I must say that the goal of getting some wild chickens was totally unrealistic, but we definitely found another good use for a Tim Horton's cup (target practice). Fishing was again for me an unrealistic goal, but I captured the scene of beautiful Clearwater Lake forever in my mind, and I hope someday to return.
The afternoon was booked with talks at the local College and classrooms and then a quick bite before my evening Triathlon Clinic started. I thought I was tired from the previous night, but for over 4 hours, I tried to impart on the group of about 15 as much knowledge as I could. I usually try not to overload in this way, but when I learned that they had never had anyone in The Pas to host any triathlon clinics, I figured that I would make it worthwhile, even if it took all of us a few days to recover! I covered all three sports with triathlon specific drills, technical knowledge and skills. The pool session was really fun and they participated in a lot of fun activities that I hope they will use in their training and coaching. My greatest pleasure was seeing Tron come out for a second evening. When I saw him run, I thought Simon Whitfield had a twin! His form was nearly identical, and to consider that he was doing it with an old pair of cross-trainer shoes.
I am so fortunate to be able to contribute in some way and in return, learn so much about others - all through sport!
My latest commitment was a presentation workshop provided by Clean Air Champions to help the athletes involved in this great program to hone their skills at delivering the message about a cleaner environment. In particular, the government sponsored One Tonne Challenge, which is aimed at getting every household to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by one tonne. The Clean Air Champions help spread the message by visiting schools, events and other venues. More information about this and how to sign up for this challenge can be found at: http:/www.climatechange.gc.ca
Finally, I am currently involved in a weekly writing course at St Lawrence College, assisting as swim coach twice a week, with other commitments filling the rest of my time. But I wouldn't have it any other way. This transition phase is very challenging, but I am trying to do it as best I can and I thank all of you for your support and patience during this time. My plans are to work towards getting started in coaching, increase my motivational/public speaking engagements, and writing some articles for publication. I do plan to continue racing, but mainly in Canada and USA so that I can enjoy being at home more regularly. And that brings me to the biggest goal of all: to spend more time with the family and friends who have always been there for me and often without the appreciation they deserve.
So I want to end by thanking you for the support you have given me and I look forward to some more great times in the future. I hope you will continue to join me for the ride!
|October 6, 2004 - October Update|
On September 22nd Sharon was a guest at the Gold Medal Plates function in Ottawa. Gold Medal Plates is a national initiative created to raise funds and awareness for Canada's high performance athletes through the Canadian Olympic Excellence Fund.
She will be attending the Petro Canada Leadership Convention 29-31 October in Winnipeg (site of Sharon's 1999 Pan American Games gold medal performance)and will also be the guest speaker at the Triathlon Manitoba Awards night Sat 30 October.
Sharon is coaching twice a week at the Kingston Blue Marlins Swim Club in Kingston.
|September 9, 2004 - Sharon's Women Warriors Profile on the CBC|
|Sharon was profiled on the CBC TV show, Women Warriors, in 2003. An archive of her show is available from WomensWarriors.ca.|
|August 26, 2004 - Sharon in Kingston Media|
|Sharon continues to distinguish herself as an Olympian and a Canadian we can be proud of. Despite her disappointment in regard to Athens, she has helped the Canadian Athletes through her participation in the media with her Olympic analysis. Sharon has been featured on CKWS NEWSWATCH ( CBC) and on 96.3 FM for the entire Olympic period commenting on the athletes’ performances and analysing what is going on in front of and behind the scenes. Sharon’s experience and knowledge and great camera and microphone presence makes her interviews especially informative for viewers. She will be heard on 96.3 again today and tomorrow between 6 and 9am and also seen on CKWS TV Friday night at 5:30pm. Last night on CKWS News she commented on the emotions and explanations for some of the mishaps of the athletes suffered at the Games, such as Perdita. Sharon continues to contribute to our community and to our country in true Olympic style…always an OLYMPIAN! Sharon is giving special tribute to her sponsors and supporters on air.|
|August 18, 2004 - Sharon's August Update|
I had meant to write and send this update out a few weeks ago, but with traveling and the lack of desire to put my thoughts on paper, it just did not happen! So I might as well send it out now, as many of us, yes myself included, watch the many hours of excellent Olympic coverage. I am slowly getting around to calling my friends and sponsors and I have realized that they have all been waiting to hear from me first as they were not sure how I would be feeling. Also, I find everyone is at a loss for what to say - I understand and there is no need to try to find the words - talking about the crazy weather is always a good place to start! Admittedly, I had a very hard time dealing with my race result for the first two weeks, more so than I would ever have thought! Even though I did everything I could have done and I knew going in that there was only one thing I could not do and that was to have control over my competitors! Samantha had to have the race of her life to beat me and I could not control that. I think the small margin of 22 seconds is why it was so difficult to face the outcome. So, flying to Europe a week later to meet my husband was the best quick decision I could have made as it helped me to stop the continuous replaying of the race, in my head! Instead, I could watch the Tour de France race in its place.
Since returning, I have stayed at home visiting family and I am only now beginning to contact my friends, supporters and sponsors. I appreciate your patience, and even more your support. I have written my update below to fill you in on how my preparations went and a little bit about the race. If you were following my reports in the Ottawa Sun or on my website, I was not fully forthright about everything that I was doing, and I hope you will understand this as you read further. Thank you again for all of your support, and I will continue to keep you informed as to what my next goals and dreams will be - as soon as I figure them out for myself!!!
First I must apologize to you for not disclosing a shoulder injury that I sustained early in the year. I tore the subscapularis tendon off of my shoulder bone when I fell over cross country skiing. (I consider cross-country skiing part of my training and I always stick to easy trails to ensure I am working aerobically rather than difficult technical aspects) It was a fluke fall, and one which would not cause someone else to have the same injury. In any case, I was devastated. When I received an MRI, I was told that I had no choice but to get immediate surgery. My chiropractor in Toronto, Dr Scapaticci, referred me to an excellent shoulder specialist, Dr Erin Boynton at Mount Sinai in Toronto, who was able to fit me into her OR schedule only 4 days after seeing me! When I visited her for the first time, I knew that she was the best! (Of course, being the surgeon for the Toronto Blue Jays also held some sway also!) But it was her confidence in her abilities, and her belief in my willpower to overcome and push the rehab necessary to be ready for July 11th that convinced me to have her perform the surgery.
The surgery on Feb 4th entailed drilling two holes in my bone for which to sew the tendon through, leaving me with a three inch scar at the front of my shoulder (this is a beautiful complement to my array of road rash scars from various cycle crashes!) I also went through pain that I had never before encountered. Just minor movements that I had to do hourly as part of my rehab were excruciating, but within days I was on a recumbent bike and elliptical trainer (although I had to get my mother to tie my shoes before I left the apartment - as I could not do that or many other simple tasks like washing myself for almost two weeks). I asked the surgeon how long it would be before I could train in each of my sports and she replied that she had sewn me up well, but that I would have to refrain from any internal rotation for a month (i.e.: no swimming!) For everything else, she said it was only my pain that would dictate, I asked her if this pain was bad i.e., would it hurt my repair? And she said no, I could do my rehab and sports as hard as would like, and swimming would have to be curtailed to wait for the opening to heal and until I could do internal exercises.
I took her advice and 10 days after, I was running on a treadmill and cycling indoors. The pain was brutal, but bearable! I refrained from taking my pain medication during the day as it would affect my ability to train, but I relied on it heavily to get me through the nights for 3 months (I know exactly how long Codeine works - 4 hours!). At the end of February, I had a period of time where I doubted myself and questioned my continuation in this sport but I refocused by realizing that I needed the July 11th qualification race more than any other race before, since it would provide me with the goal to work towards getting my shoulder back to health again. I was afraid that if I quit at this point, I would not rehab my shoulder properly and possibly become depressed. I wanted to be strong for a lifetime of sport and so I looked at the Edmonton race as the goal towards which I would work harder than ever before in an effort to fix my body; By working as hard as I could each day, I knew that come July 11th, I would be able to race with confidence.
My updates through the year were accurate, but missed the details of my training which would have indicated my situation. I only got into the pool in late March, with the aid of a snorkel and fins and I could only perform a modified dog paddle stroke since I could not lift my arm out of the water (later I learned that some people saw me at the pool wondering what kind of new swimming drill I was doing!) My lack of racing in the early season races were due solely to the fact that I still could not swim and even by May I was only able to swim times that a year earlier would be an easy warm-up pace for me! I had to be very patient and at the same time aggressive with my strength work - I had to believe in myself and the surgeon that I would be come through in time, which I did. Come June, I was finally able to keep up to my training partner, Susan Williams (who is representing the USA at Athens) which was a key indicator that I had the swim speed I needed to race at the international level again!
So why did I keep this information so quiet? It was not an easy decision to keep it quiet and swear my therapists and close friends and family to secrecy, but I had to do it for a couple of reasons:
Fast Forward - July 11th Race Day, Edmonton Alberta
I had invited my mom and brother to watch me race and I am so happy that they were there to give me support before and after the race (my husband, Dave could not attend as he could not leave Bosnia in the final days of his 1 year tour of NATO duty). I felt great mentally for the race, happy and excited. The swim was great as I came out with a small second pack about :20 down from the front pack and our group quickly caught them in the 2nd of 6 loops of the bike. At that point, we had over 2 minutes on the chase group which included the 3 Canadian women going for the one Olympic spot. But then the pace dropped as the size of our group became so big. There were only about 4 or 5 women putting in the work while the others tagged along and even worse, slowed the pace down by just not continuing the pace line. It was frustrating and any breakaways were shut down as soon as they started. I could only work as hard as I could with the others willing to do their share. In the meantime, Samantha McGlone had broken away with another athlete from the chase pack and was working hard to close the time gap to our group - that strategy proved to be crucial. If she had remained in that chase pack, she would never have caught me. Also, she did so without the other 2 Canadians going with her which was surprising.
Onto the run, I could see her coming into the transition as I was heading out onto the run and I knew that I would have to run as hard as I could to hold her off. The weather turned horrible as we headed out onto the run, but I hardly noticed the drastic drop in temperature and pelting of hail as I tried to hold her off. But at 9km she passed me; I would be watching the Olympic triathlon race on TV. The chance of being called up to replace an injured athlete was remote, but enough to make sure that I would continue to train over the coming weeks to prepare for the possibility ( so far, three triathletes, from Britain and Germany respectively have had to be replaced because of broken bone injuries!).
What made this race outcome so difficult is that I came so close to earning that Olympic berth - 22 seconds! If the gap had been wider, I think I would not have been so bummed out. In other sports this gap could be 100's of a second, and I can now empathize with them because of the replays that go on in the head for weeks afterwards! Where could I have worked harder? Did I follow a strict enough diet? Was my preparation good enough? What other tactics could I have played out in the race? These are all questions that I had going through my head after my race. But I kept coming up with the same answer - I did everything I could have in the time I was given and my race went exactly as I had hoped. The only thing that I could not change and never could, was that my competitor, Samantha McGlone had the race of her life, did a gutsy, strategic move on the bike by breaking away from her bike pack to minimize the gap to the pack I was in. If she had not done this, she would not have made the team.
I had to look back and see how far I had come since February! In Edmonton, I exited the water only: 23sec down on the lead swimmers and with other triathletes, we quickly caught them on the bike. My shoulder had recovered to the point where I could compete at the world class level once again! The unfortunate thing was that I had been suffering from tight hamstrings for the 6 weeks leading in to Edmonton and that was very tough mentally since I had overcome so much with my shoulder to then be hindered by my hamstrings! Especially since I knew that my competitors were strong runners!
My Road to Athens had ended, but I gave a big hug to Samantha after the race and wished her all the best in Athens. I have been to Olympics, and I hope that she will have as great an experience as I did.
I returned home and was welcomed at Kingston airport by many supporters! It was a complete surprise, and one which had me in tears! I was pretty emotional for my first week home and the many wishes from friends were incredible. I really was at a loss as to what to do and decided that the best thing would be to join my husband on a trip that he had planned with a friend from Ottawa in Europe (as I would have been hopefully away on a pre-Olympic camp instead!). So I booked an air miles ticket and I was flying over to France one week after Edmonton and hooked up with them for a week of Tour de France spectating. It was the best thing I could have done, watch other athletes sweat it out for a change; see my husband for the first time in months; and get away from triathlon! I could not stay away from doing sports myself - as we managed to fit in plenty of cycling on some of the most famous climbs in France in Switzerland.
What are my future plans? I am not sure! I do find this difficult as I had not made any goals and to someone who has lived every day of her life by goal setting, it is a real challenge! But, I had not made any plans for after the Edmonton race deliberately as I wanted to fully put all of my focus on that event. So in the meantime, I have signed up for a few coaching courses and will be doing some Olympic commentary for the CKWS television and radio stations in Kingston. As to my sports career, first I will give my body a bit of a break from these past two years of punishment and then I will continue to race, but remain at home more and augment it with coaching!
Lastly, my long career in this wonderful sport would not be possible without the support of my family, friends and sponsors. I am truly thankful for your support and belief in me. I am truly blessed.
Thank you once again for reading and I hope you will enjoy watching the 2004 Athens Olympics.
|August 1, 2004 - Sharon is Third at Caledon|
Donnelly overcomes major shoulder injury to continue competing in triathlon
JULIE SCOTT - Canadian Press
CALEDON, Ont. (CP) - Shortly after her third-place finish in the Continental Cup triathlon Saturday, Sharon Donnelly tenderly took off her left shoe to have a look her blistered foot. It may have been an annoyance during the race but it was nothing compared to the other injuries she's battled this year.
The triathlete from Kingston, Ont., fell while cross-country skiing last winter, tearing a tendon in her shoulder. She underwent surgery Feb. 3 and needed months of rehabilitation.
"It's been a very hard year," she said. "I almost quit the sport."
But after some reflection and encouragement from friends and family, Donnelly decided to persevere. It was an Olympic year after all. Donnelly set her sights on a World Cup event in Edmonton on July 11 where she would have a chance to capture a berth on the Canadian team that would travel to Athens. It was just the motivation she needed to get better.
"I realized maybe if I don't fight for the Edmonton race, I might not do my rehab properly," she said. "It provided a goal for me . . . so that I would be fit forever."
Not only did Donnelly return from surgery but she also battled back from a hamstring injury suffered just six weeks before the World Cup to finish 12th. It wasn't good enough for an Olympic berth but it was personally satisfying.
"It was a big learning experience for me, coming back from surgery and bringing my way back up," she said.
In Saturday's race, New Zealand's Samantha Warriner captured the gold, finishing the 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike and 10-kilometre run in two hours 13 minutes 59 seconds while American Kelsey Withrow was second in 2:15:10. Donnelly was the top Canadian in 2:16:21. The hot, humid weather proved to be a challenge for some athletes, thought Donnelly said she likes it better that way.
"The first two laps of the run, I thought 'This is going to be a long run,"' she said. "Then I started feeling better and I was like 'Oh OK, let's keep pushing the pace a little bit."'
But the 37-year-old Donnelly was pleased with what she saw in her competition.
"I was excited because so many girls came out of the water with me and that really bodes well for the future of the sport," said Donnelly, who doesn't plan to race after next season. "I'm so, so happy."
Despite her injury, Donnelly said she was still confident about making it to Athens.
"I had struggles mentally in the months leading in to it (the Edmonton race)," she said. "But that's normal. I knew what I needed to do and I had a feeling that if the race went according to my splits I needed to do then I knew I could make it. I came pretty close."
In the end, Montreal's Samantha McGlone passed Donnelly on the final lap of the run to finish 11th and capture the final berth for Athens.
"If she had stayed with the pack, things would have turned out different," said Donnelly. "She had an incredible race."
While Donnelly and her husband Dave Rudnicki, a major in the Canadian air force who has been in Bosnia for the past year, spent the last few weeks in France taking in a few stages of the Tour de France, Donnelly said she's keeping herself fit just in case she's called upon to race in Athens. She won't travel with the team to Greece otherwise.
"Anything can happen," she said. "I'm glad I signed up for this race (in Caledon) because it kept me motivated and I had a goal. This year more than ever I've needed my goals to get me step by step."
© Copyright 2004 The Canadian Press
|July 11, 2004 - Sharon Third Canadian at Edmonton|
Sharon finished as third Canadian at the Edmonton ITU Triathlon, missing the Canadian Olympic team by one place. Jill Savege, who had already made the Canadian team was the first Canadian and Samanta McGlone passed Sharon in the last kilometer of the run to take the third sport for the team for Athens.
Sharon has been named as an alternate for the women's team for Athens.
More...from the ITU.
|June 27, 2004 - Pal Helps Ease a Rocky Boulder Beginning|
(Sharon Donnelly, a former Orleans resident who now calls Kingston home, represented Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in women's triathlon. As she counts down toward the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, she shares her thoughts with Sun readers in a series of columns).
I'm back in beautiful Boulder, Colorado for my last period of preparation prior to my selection race on July 11th in Edmonton Alberta. But before I came here, I spent almost three weeks at home in Kingston getting re-acquainted with my husband who was home for his second leave period, and getting together with our friends. It was a great time and the wonderful May weather allowed me to continue my hard training from San Luis Obispo, California. The three weeks at home ended all too soon and once again, Dave and I went our separate ways, Dave to Bosnia and I to Boulder.
My arrival to Boulder was anything but smooth. I had arranged for accommodation on the internet at what sounded like a lovely basement apartment in a nice neighbourhood, and had even spoken with the person leasing out the apartment on the telephone. But when I arrived at the house I learned that it had been given to someone else that would be staying for a longer period than me. I was shocked and at a loss as to what to do. I spent the next few hours searching for other options, but knew that at least I could stay at the house of one of the other athletes for a few nights. It was not ideal as they had dogs and I am allergic to animals! I was stressed out to say the least, no matter how hard I tried to keep myself calm. Then I remembered that a good friend and fellow competitor, Joanna Zeiger, had moved to the area just last fall and she too was an asthmatic! I called her home and spoke with her husband who said they would love to have me come and stay with them. I was so relieved and happy. Fate is a funny thing and I believe that things happen for a reason. This was one of those times, since I am much better off staying at Joanna's home than I would have been on my own in the other apartment!
It has also been a great new learning experience, since they follow a relatively strict Jewish regiment at home. The kosher guidelines with respect to food and dishes that they follow is based not on the way foods are cooked or types of dishes but upon religious criteria. There is not enough space in this column to explain the meanings or the variations, but I will fill you in on some of the basics that I have learned had to adjust for are:
I have really enjoyed learning about these and other observances of the Jewish religion, and I add this to my list of wonderful learning experiences from around the world of so many other cultures and religions.
On the training side, I was more prepared for what my first week of training would be since I was here in the fall of 2003! I knew that the first week would feel horrible as my body gets used to the altitude and my workouts would have to be controlled. I am now well adjusted and putting in some key sessions to prepare me for my July 11th race in Edmonton - selection race for the third and final Olympic spot. I have been battling some hamstring soreness - but am hoping that with further treatments I will be toeing the start line at 100%. I can race at my best if I am healthy on the start line. But if I am feeling pain from injury or soreness - then it will be tough to race at the speed required to win. The competition will be tough as the younger athletes are hungry and racing really well this year. I too am hungry, and will be relying on my many years of racing experience at high pressure events to bring me through. Like anything in life, in order to achieve the best out of oneself, you have to put all of yourself on the line: physical, mental and emotional. I have tried to do this every day and I know that everyone will be doing just that on the start line.
As the Dalai Lama advises: Look to your competitor as a great teacher who provides you with the opportunity to continually improve yourself.
Thanks for reading,
|June 14, 2004 - Sharon 10th in Bellingham Triathlon|
Sharon placed 10th in the Bakers Breakfast Cookie International Triathlon in Bellingham, Washington on Sunday. Her time was 2:19:17.
The race served as the final Olympic Team selection event for the United States.
A complete race report is available from USA Triathlon.
|May 24, 2004 - Sharon Wins Provincial Duathlon Championships|
Sharon won the Runner's Life Provincial Duathlon Championships in Peterborough, Ontario on Sunday. Her time of 1:14:34 for the 5K Run. 20K Cycle and 5K Run placed her 18th overall.
Complete results are available from Chip Time Results.
|May 20, 2004 - Sharon Racing Duathlon Sunday|
|Sharon will be competing in the Runner's Life Provincial Duathlon Championships in Peterborough, Ontario this Sunday, May 23rd.|
|May 9, 2004 - Nothing Beats California Sun|
(Sharon Donnelly, a former Orleans resident who now calls Kingston home, represented Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in women's triathlon. As she counts down toward the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, she shares her thoughts with Sun readers in a series of columns).
My apologies, dear readers, for the extended length of time that has passed since my last article.
But my training camp in lovely San Luis Obispo, Calif., has been very tough and when faced with an option of sleeping or writing my column, well, you know what won over! There were even a few times when I arrived back from my last workout of the day and, before hitting the shower, I would just sit for a few minutes on my bed to get my energy. And I would find myself waking up an hour later, still in my smelly workout clothes!
My days normally start with a 5:15 a.m. wake-up for morning swim workout. When that is done, I usually quickly check my e-mails at a local Internet cafe on my way to either physiotherapy or to home, where I will get a little rest (maybe) and then get ready for my next workout. I usually get back in the early afternoon and have another snack. I may or may not have another session later in the day. But I also try to fit in core work 4-5 times per week as well.
So on average, I train anywhere from 3-6 hours per day and then, added into that, is my core strength and stretching, and my regular physical therapy and massage to keep my body together. Bedtime comes quickly as the days become quite full!
The hard training is tempered by the fact I am in such a beautiful place, staying with wonderful people and training with a great, motivated group. This is my first time to San Luis Obispo (also more locally known as “SLO”) and I love it. It is a city of about 50,000 people and is located just inland from the ocean, almost directly in between San Francisco and Los Angeles. I had a fellow athlete set me up with a lovely family that lives close to the university (Cal Poly which is quite similar to Guelph University with its emphasis on agriculture).
Of course, this could only mean that there are some awesome places to run, including a great track, and lovely country roads through their pastures. The SLO Physical Therapy Clinic was another hangout place for me as they helped keep my body together and their training facilities were state of the art as well. My training group stayed with various families and homes in the area and all had similar welcoming experiences.
The group — made up of athletes from the U.S., Sweden, Hong Kong and Canada — is a small one, but extremely positive. Getting into a cold outdoor pool when it is still dark outside and you can see each other’s breath in the air was fun because of the positive vibes within our group. Training with everyone certainly made me get more out of myself than if I was on my own.
The only disappointment is that I did not learn about this place before now! I have usually spent my winter months in Australia and yes, I love it there (I get reminders of Australia here in SLO because of the eucalyptus trees). But truly nothing compares to this area:
We can actually train at any time of the day. In Australia, by contrast, you usually can only train between 4:30-10 a.m. and then from 4-7 p.m., as midday is too hot to do anything! The weather in San Luis Obispo is always such that training is possible — not much more than a 10-degree variant in temperature.
Running on the trails here is a relief from the few trails in Australia, where the cobwebs strung across the tracks are thick enough to stop you in your tracks!
Sharks? Well, they are probably more prevalent in SLO, since the water is so cold here, you must wear a wetsuit and thus you resemble a seal and are more likely to look like shark food. So I refrain from heading into the ocean! But I was still not a fan of swimming in the ocean in Australia — for the same reasons!
It is closer to home, so I’m not wiped for a week when I return from my training camp (it’s only a three-hour time difference).
Lastly, I feel safe riding! In Australia and many other places I have trained in North America, I am not comfortable riding because of poor roads with no shoulders and inconsiderate drivers. In Australia, I have had beer bottles and trash thrown out the window and cars that force us off the road. In Florida, similar things have happened. Many North American and Australian drivers do not respect cyclists as other vehicles on the road. Roads are not just for cars. European drivers understand this and respect cyclists, but maybe growing up with many of their villages hosting local cycling events cultivates a love and thus respect for an activity that everyone enjoys and should feel safe doing. San Luis Obispo is an exception as there are bike lanes and large shoulders on all roadways within city limits and outside. I was in awe when I arrived and I have never felt safer riding in a North American city. Even with the large number of personal trucks and SUVs, the signage and visibility of municipality support for cyclists make the drivers aware of us. As a result of this emphasis on bikes, I see so many more people out riding their bikes for fitness and for commuting. It is truly a great sight.
My last observation brings me to the end of my article and my thoughts for you all: With Bike to Work Week coming soon, think of ways to help your city become more cyclist friendly. You may not want to or be able to bike to work, but support those that do. Hey if you think about it, the more people that do bike to work, the less traffic on the road for those who don’t!
How about lobbying your local governments for more cyclist lanes, bike racks, road signs etc.? Whatever you think can make such a wonderful and environmentally friendly activity safer for everyone.
Thank you for reading and patiently waiting for this submission. Have a great Bike to Work Week.
|May 9, 2004 - Terrorists won't keep triathlete home|
By ROB BRODIE, Ottawa Sun
Sharon Donnelly isn't about to let the terrorists win. So the Kingston triathlete isn't wavering from her plans to represent Canada at the Athens Summer Olympics.
Fears of terrorism were raised again on Wednesday, when three bombs went off in suburban Athens. While damage was minimal and there were no deaths, it set off debate again about whether the Greek capital is ready to handle any possible attacks during the Aug. 13-29 Olympics.
Already, security costs for the Games have climbed to $1.4 billion US.
While some athletes have indicated they're becoming a little skittish about participating in the Olympics, Donnelly isn't among them.
"It's worrisome," said the former Orleans resident. "But it's not going to stop me or stop anyone else from attending.
"I'm definitely not going to change what my passion in life is because of that."
Donnelly, a captain in the Canadian army reserves, sees staying home as a victory for the terrorists.
"I don't think many athletes will stay home," she said. "That's what terrorism is about -- they want us to stay home. You can't do that. But you do have to be vigilant and keep your eyes open.
"I'll probably avoid being around groups of people from countries that are (potential) targets. And I'll be wearing my red maple leaf stuff everywhere."
First, though, she has to get there. It all comes down to a World Cup event July 11 in Edmonton.
Canada can send three women to Athens, and two B.C. triathletes -- Jill Savege and Carol Montgomery -- have secured the first two spots. The battle for third is between Donnelly, Natasha Filliol and Samantha McGlone. Whoever finishes highest in Edmonton goes to Greece.
Pressure? Donnelly doesn't see it that way. Like a good soldier, she believes it's all about being prepared to deliver her best on the day. "I'm doing everything I can to be ready," she said. "If I'm not the best on that day, I can't really pull too much disappointment from it. If I've done the best I can and someone else is better, there's nothing more I can do."
|May 7, 2004 - Ottawa Citizen Article|
From the Ottawa Citizen, May 7, 2004
Donnelly poised to make final try for Olympics
Alicia Harvey , The Ottawa Citizen - May 7, 2004
Sharon Donnelly is gearing up for an important race that will determine if she will represent Canada in the triathlon of the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Canada will only send three competitors for the women's triathlon in Athens in August, and only one spot remains available. It will go to the top Canadian in a World Cup event at Edmonton on July 11.
Jill Savege of Penticton, B.C., earned the first spot on the team by placing fourth in a World Cup event at Athens last October.
The second spot will go to the Canadian with the most World Cup podium finishes over a 14-month period ending this month, and Donnelly doesn't rank high enough in that category because of injury problems that have kept the former Gloucester resident from competing in enough events.
Samantha McGlone and Natasha Filliol are her main competition for this last spot, says Donnelly, 36, who expects this will be her last attempt to compete in the Olympics.
"It depends how the race unfolds," Donnelly said yesterday, when she was in Ottawa for a round of media interviews. "I am a better swimmer, an equal cyclist. One of them may be a better runner on a given day.
"At a certain level, it comes down to hard work."
Donnelly trains six or seven days a week and anywhere from two to six hours a day.
She insisted the difference between world-class triathletes isn't physical strength so much as the mental strength that gives athletes an extra edge in competition.
"It's amazing what the mind can do when you compare one person who gives up and one person who says, 'I'm going to fight this, it's pretty cool,'" Donnelly said .
Donnelly competed in the 200o Sydney Olympics, which was the first year the triathlon became a full medal sport, but her own medal dream was dashed when was involved in a pileup during the cycling leg of the event. She ended up 38th.
Donnelly kept the mangled tire from the bike she rode in Sydney as a keepsake. Though she keeps it stashed under the stairs at her Kingston home, the smile across her face when she speaks about it reveals its significance to her.
"It's smashed right through," she said. "There's a hole in the tire and it just reminds me of how I got a replacement and how I got up to finish that race."
Donnelly also said it was unlikely she would have continued to strive to compete in the 2004 Olympics if not for her many supporters and sponsors.
"I wasn't ready to give up the friendships (after Sydney), and I was still able to compete at the international level," said Donnelly, who has won three Canadian triathlon titles and a gold medal in the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg.
The Olympic triathlon comprises a 1,500-metre swim, a 40-kilometre bike ride and a 10-kilometre run.
© The Ottawa Citizen
A profile of Sharon Donnelly
A profile of Sharon Donnelly
Martin Cleary, Ottawa Citizen - Thursday, May 06, 2004
The following article first appeared in the Citizen on Sept. 11, 2000.
When Sharon Donnelly decided in 1996 that she wanted to become a world-class triathlete, she carefully designed a five-year plan.
"I knew it would take time,'' the former competitive swimmer says about attaining the right physical and mental characteristics to compete against the best in the world.
After graduating from the Canadian age-group scene as one of the top butterfly swimmers in the country, she discovered the triathlon. All she had to do was become a good freestyle swimmer and add the cycling and running components -- a major task, indeed.
By 1989, she entered her first triathlon in Grimsby, Ont. She won the K Town Tri in Kingston in 1993 and '95, which was the year the International Olympic Committee accepted the Sydney Olympic Committee's proposal to put three-part sport on its program for the 2000 Summer Olympics.
A year later, Donnelly, now 33, decided to step up from regional, provincial and domestic competition and shoot the works on the world scene.
In retrospect, the Canadian Forces captain made the right move, one that has qualified her for the 2000 Games, which begin Saturday in Australia.
Donnelly's debut season, in 1996 was uplifting, with four top-10 results on the International Triathlon Union World Cup circuit. Since then, she has added another 11 top-10 results.
In the past two years, she has reached the medal podium twice, winning silver at Toronto this summer and Monte Carlo in 1999. The two-time Canadian champion also won the gold medal in the 1999 Pan Am Games at Winnipeg, despite shoulder tendinitis, and a silver in the 1997 world military triathlon championships.
While her results at world championships have been disappointing (only one top-10 result in four years, that being ninth place in 1996), Donnelly is considered part of Canada's one-two medal punch with Carol Montgomery of North Vancouver, B.C. In the Toronto World Cup, Montgomery and Donnelly finished 1-2 against a strong international field.
The Olympic triathlon consists of a 1,500-metre swim, a 40-kilometre bike ride and a 10-km run. The longer Ironman competitions, such as famed world championship in Hawaii, cover 3.8 km in the water, 179 km on the bike and the 42.195-km marathon run.
"I don't do the sport to make money,'' says Donnelly, who did win about $2,000 U.S. for placing second at Toronto. ``If I did, I'd do the Ironman.
"My goal was to make the Olympics. I didn't care what it costs. If I survive and make a living, a sustainable living, I'll be competitive.''
During the past three years, Donnelly has become more competitive because she has been able to train well and attend many World Cup meets. After years of covering her own costs, she secured two sponsorship deals, and she also receives funding from her Triathlon Canada and the federal government's Athletic Assistance Program.
Her budget for this year is about $25,000.
When she met the Canadian Olympic Association criteria for selection to the 2000 Sydney team, she automatically qualified as one of the first four triathletes to receive a monthly federal government stipend of about $1,100 a month.
For the past two years, volunteer-run Triathlon Canada has been covering some of her travel expenses to World Cup meets. It also provides small cash rewards for top results.
Sirius Consulting Group Inc., an Ottawa-based computer consulting company, has sponsored Donnelly for more than three years. Ken Parker, the firm's president and chief executive officer, also is head coach of the OAC Running Team.
Parker's company provides Donnelly with a lump sum payment once a year for her training. Parker also created and maintains a highly informative and attractive Internet web site at www.sirius.ca/sharon.html.
"Ken has been awesome,'' she says. ``What Ken also gives is an opportunity for cross promotion.''
Parker met Donnelly six years ago, when she joined the OAC team. He knew she was a talented swimmer and quickly saw she had potential as a runner.
"As a runner, she was scratching the surface of what she could do,'' Parker says. ``She had improved a lot in the short period of time (six months). She was a smart trainer. She'd go into a race and had another gear to go (faster).
"The way she was committed to going to the Olympics, I knew a lot of (good) things could happen. I didn't want to prevent it from happening.''
Donnelly also is in the first year of a two-year deal with Empire Financial Group in Kingston. A former Gloucester resident, she has been based in Kingston for the past year. Her husband, Dave Rudnicki, an RMC No. 4 Squadron leader, was posted there last summer.
She also receives equipment sponsorship and moral support from the Canadian Forces.
The Canadian Army has developed a poster of Donnelly and is using her in its campaign to promote women in the forces. Donnelly graduated Royal Military College in 1990 and was a logistics officer until 1995, when she shifted to the Reserve Force from the Regular Force to chase her Olympic dream. She is a captain with 763 Ottawa communications regiment on Walkley Road.
Donnelly is familiar with the Sydney Olympic course, which is in the shadows of the city's famed Opera House. Twice the competitions have gone well, but a recent World Cup meet was one worth forgetting.
The swimming competition was horrible. She didn't like her starting position on the dock and was struggling to breathe with a snug new wetsuit in the chilly water in Sydney Harbour. There's a possibility she'll need the wetsuit for the Olympics, but she has had plenty of practice in a more comfortable suit.
"It was a dumb rookie mistake,'' she says about the wetsuit.
Donnelly came out of the water first in the third pack, when normally she heads for the cycle as part of the lead group.
About 15 minutes into the cycling competition, she crashed to the road after slipping on a spot made slick by light rain and a patch of oil, losing contact with her pack of riders.
Despite a strong run, she finished in 29th place.
As a way of erasing that negative race, Donnelly has been running a perfect Olympic race through her head for weeks.
She must have a strong swim and come out of the water with Australians Michellie Jones and Loretta Harrod and American JenniferGutierrez. In the cycling, she must be stick with the top group.
"If you can't hold the pace, they'll drop you,'' she says.
For the run, she figures she must be 70 seconds ahead of the front pack for a shot at a medal and one minute 45 seconds ahead ofMontgomery, who is a world-class runner and is also qualified to run in the Olympic track and field's 10,000 metres.
"You just turn your brain off,'' Donnelly adds. ``You must focus on yourself. Once the pain creeps in, you say: `I've had more pain than this before.'''
Parker feels that is the key to see Donnelly on the podium.
It's a possibility,'' he said. ``She's extremely competitive. You could take the Olympic field and do the race five times and have five different winners.
"Everything must go right. If anyone is off or has bad luck, the field is too strong. It's super, super competitive. But she's not intimidated by the field.''
The Sharon Donnelly profile
Place of birth: Toronto
© The Ottawa Citizen 2004
|April 30, 2004 - Update|
Sharon is not racing in the ITU World Championships in Portugal.
Her next races will be in Bellingham, WA on June 13th and in Edmonton on July 11th.
|March 27, 2004 - Triathlon Canada announces Carded Athletes|
For the first time in its history, Triathlon Canada is pleased to announce a full complement of cards for its athletes. Triathlon Canada, on behalf of its athletes, has expressed its sincere thanks to the Government of Canada.
In partnership with Sport Canada and the Athlete Assistance Program, the following triathletes will receive monthly financial support and tuition credits to support their training:
Senior International Cards:
- Sharon Donnelly (Kingston, Ontario)
- Samantha McGlone (Montreal, Quebec)
- Brent McMahon (Victoria, British Columbia)
The carding program of Triathlon Canada will continue in the future beginning each year on the 1st of November. The criteria for the next cycle will be posted on www.triathloncanada.com in early April. All athletes and coaches are encouraged to become familiar with the criteria.
For More Information Contact:
Triathlon Canada High Performance
|March 21, 2004 - Email from Sharon|
I am currently in San Luis Obispo, California training and am loving it here! I have never trained in central California and it is a hidden gem!
This is the first time I have felt safe riding when I am away winter training! My past training bases in Australia, San Diego and Clermont cannot compare to this area!
|March 13, 2004 - Taking A Break Takes Work|
The Ottawa Sun - Copyright (c) 2004, Sun Media Corporation
Athletes Have Many Options To Consider For 'Downtime' From Training
I often get asked questions relating to my "downtime."
I am not talking about stretching, massage or physiotherapy, as I consider those to be sport related. I am referring to activities that are not related at all.
We all want to know what athletes are doing when they are not eating, sleeping and doing their sport!
During this time of the year, down time is minimal since each day I am putting in up to 5-6 hours of training, 1-2 hours of stretching/core strength/stability work and 1-2 hours of administration work related to my sponsors, travel arrangements, training schedule, e-mail replies, and media. But during training camps and travelling, there is a little bit more time to do other non-triathlon related activities.
Here is a list of common non-sport activities I have observed:
1. The Recovery Snooze: It is the first activity with which all athletes will fill some of those non-training hours and it could be classified as "sport related," as it helps the body to recover from the hard training. However, I decided to describe it here anyways, as some athletes are able to do this activity anywhere and anytime without jeopardizing their night sleep. I am not one of those fortunate ones. I have to be very tired in order to have a good snooze and I must engage in this activity before the onset of the afternoon or else the nighttime sleep is a struggle!
2. Watching Bad TV: I must emphasize the "bad," since often this activity takes place during the hours in between training sessions or while eating. These are invariably during the soap opera, game show and Jerry Springer show timings. Athletes are often engaged in the nighttime sleep activity when the evening news and better TV shows come on.
3. Video Games: This, I believe, is more popular among male athletes I have observed. I don't have an explanation for this. I personally get frustrated and wound up when I attempt to play them, not exactly the perfect recovery activity! I cannot provide much more information on this, as I and my training partners do not partake in it.
4. Going to the Movies: This is a popular activity in summer months or at training camps that take place in hot climates. The benefits are two-fold: One is that athletes can go for the cheap matinee shows, since we may get a few hours off midday when the temperature is the hottest and not the best for training. The second is that the theatres are air conditioned -- a welcome relief from sweating at home on the couch or at the desk.
5. Shopping: This is more popular among female athletes that I have watched, but I refrain from this activity as I don't particularly enjoy it and am usually too tired from my daily training to walk around a mall shopping for clothes or other things! However, I thoroughly enjoy shopping for food and I seem to do it on a daily basis.
6. Internet surfing and e-mail: Okay, this is the bane of everyone, not just athletes! We all spend too much time sitting in front of a computer screen and feeling obliged to reply to every e-mail we receive. Of course, a lot of my work is done via computer as well. But when I am away from home at a training camp or racing, my usage drops dramatically, except I always try to check the online edition of the Ottawa Sun! When I return home, I get drawn back into the vortex of the internet thanks to Bell High Speed Sympatico (they sponsor Canadian National Team members with free service!). My daily goal is to minimize computer usage but I rarely achieve it -- okay maybe I am asking too much, considering that I'm in front of the computer now writing this story.
7. Listening to Music: Some athletes indulge solely in this activity, but I prefer to use it to help me with activity No. 1; to drown out activity No. 2; (not applicable to activities No. 3-5); and enhance activities No. 6 and 8. Of course, activity No. 6 is often required to do ideal selection and mixing of desired material.
8. Reading: This is the most popular activity among athletes and it is my personal favourite. Books, magazines and newspapers are relatively cheap or even free and can be acquired, carried and enjoyed anywhere. Internet and computers just don't have that capability -- yet. Often athletes will come to training camps armed with a few of these reading materials, then pass them around once completed. I have yet to witness a discussion of one of the books, but there are always numerous discussions about training methods or race results found in the sports magazines!
I am sure there are many other activities that athletes participate in during their off time, but I just wanted to focus on non-sport related ones and those I had observed in my years training and racing on the World Cup circuit. Of all of these activities, I prefer reading the most. I don't get to partake in this as much when I am in my home, but when I get ready to leave for training camps or racing, the first thing I do is sort out which books I will bring with me!
I have always been a bookworm and as a youngster riding the Toronto subway to swim practice every afternoon, I would often miss my stop because I was so engrossed in my book! I even admit that I played "hooky" from the odd swim practice and went to the Toronto library instead.
Here's a few reasons why reading is beneficial to me:
1. Diversion: Prior to races, my nerves increase while my time training decreases (since I am resting up more). Any of the other activities listed above do not help to keep my mind off the ever increasing amounts of butterflies. Only reading a good book will give me the necessary distraction to give my body the rest it needs.
2. Mental Preparation: I choose certain books that will give me motivation and strength. I often read these more than once and do so before big events to give me a familiar positive boost.
3. Education: I classify my books into three categories:
a. Sports Related: These are specific to learning about training methods, diet, mental preparation, and biographies of sports legends in my field. These books can be as simple as a bike magazine or as detailed as scientific journals related to sport;
b. Literature: These are more difficult, well-known classic books that I enjoy reading to keep my mind fresh. It has been some time since I have been in a classroom and I never thought I would be saying I missed it, but I do miss working my mind, and reading great literature fills that void.
c. Easy/Junk: These are very beneficial to my race preparation as they are easy to read with fast-moving plots. These are the types of books I prefer to use when I want to escape the nerves and relax.
There are so many activities to become involved in, but as athletes we tend to choose more relaxing ones to give our bodies a break. When we retire from full-time sports and work in other ventures, no doubt sport activities will turn into one of our "relaxing and escape" activities!
But I firmly believe that above all, sport and reading go hand in hand. That is why I am so happy to support a new program just started in Toronto and supported by Brooks Canada.
The charity is called KidsFest Canada and one of its programs, the Running and Reading Club, was just launched in January 2004 by Brooks Canada and Sylvia Ruegger (who competed in the first women's marathon at the 1984 Olympics and still holds the Canadian marathon record at 2:28.36). She saw a great need for organized activity and literacy in some of the area's most needy public schools.
Her hope is to get kids hooked on simple activities like running and jumping, while learning and enjoying books. KidsFest Canada is committed to helping Canadian children who live in poverty succeed in school and in life. You can learn more about this great charity and its wonderful running and reading club program on the website: www.kidsfestcanada.com. Or you can call (905) 319-1885.
There are numerous clubs running already with more planned for Fall 2004. I am really excited about this program and will be helping Sylvia to expand it to cities across Canada!
Finally, I will finish this Athens Diary submission with a list of some of my favourite books:
Heroes in Our Midst -- Stories from Canadian athletes (including one from me!).
It's Not About the Bike -- Lance Armstrong & Sally Jenkins.
In Pursuit of Excellence -- Terry Orlick.
The Power of One -- Bryce Courtenay.
Hearts of Gold -- to be released summer 2004 (I know it will be good!).
The Lore of Running -- Tim Noakes.
The Art of Happiness -- The Dalai Lama.
Literature (so numerous, but these I still keep on the shelf):
Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit -- J.R.R. Tolkien.
Call it Sleep -- Henry Roth.
War and Peace -- Leo Tolstoy.
Crime and Punishment -- Fyodor Dostoevsky..
100 Years of Solitude -- Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
French/English dictionary -- always helpful in finding that unknown word.
Looneyspoons cookbook -- my favourite cooking resource.
The Ottawa Sun newspaper -- another favourite!
Once again, thank you for reading, and I encourage you to read something from this list (well, you already have - you are reading the Ottawa Sun!)
I look forward to sending another update soon.
|February 28, 2004 - Sharon Named to Triathlon Canada's 2004 Elite Team|
Triathlon Canada today announced the 2004 Canadian National Elite Teams. Sharon was one of eight women named to the team.
For more...visit Triathlon Canada
|February 23, 2004 -Welcome to Year 2004 - Olympic Year!|
I realize that it has been a long time since I last wrote with an update, however I have been writing monthly articles for the Ottawa Sun and these have been posted on my website, www.sharondonnelly.com. I hope that you have been able to follow my progress through these articles! I will be posting another one shortly, but it will be of a different nature than a simple training or racing synopsis. This made it necessary to write to you separately to thank you once again for continuing to support my triathlon endeavours and my desire to represent Canada once again at this year's Olympic Games.
I apologize for the generic nature of this update as I would like to address each of my sponsors for the unique support that each of you give to me, but I know that you will understand the time saved by this method. On the other hand, this also gives me the opportunity to let you all know who else is on the "Sharon Donnelly Team" and that you can also support each other! I feel so fortunate to have such a great group of sponsors, supporters and family members with me! I am always thinking of many different ways to repay your kindness and support - if only I had more time! Now isn't that every one's wish! (See the quote below!)
To recap my 2003 year - it was a roller coaster ride, with some great races and achieving my Canadian Olympic Standard with a 5th place finish at the Tokyo World Cup. But it also had its' valleys! Tearing a calf muscle in my race in Gamagori Japan in May, set me back about 4 months and was the reason behind my absence from the Pan American Games team. Under the guidance of my coach Siri Lindley (former fellow competitor and World Champion) I returned to racing with a great World Cup in Tokyo. But the roller coaster soon dipped again as I battled with my asthma and flu viruses over the next 4 races that took me from Athens to Cancun, Rio de Janeiro and finally the World Championships in Queenstown, NZ.
I returned home at Christmas after a nice break with my husband in New Zealand after the last race (he is on a 1 year NATO posting in Bosnia) determined to take better control of my asthma. A referral led me to a specialist in respirology in Toronto who determined that although I was taking very good medication, I was not doing it properly at times of stress to my system (ie: when I get sick or when I am exposed to allergens). I was given a Peak Flow meter to monitor my breathing on a regular basis so that I could see when my lungs were being compromised. When my values drop, that is an indication for me to increase my medication. I continue to do breathing exercises to better manage it and bring these into my training as well. I also know that I race better with less traveling, thus I plan to limit that and race only those that really count!
Shortly after a relaxing Christmas at home, I came down with another virus - it was difficult to escape here in Canada - at one point everyone around me seemed to be sick! I guess it was only a matter of time! But my base training and strength training began again in January as I prepare for this year. I am in the process of planning my schedule and will keep you abreast of it when I make my final decisions. I am staying at home in Kingston doing a lot of my base training on the bike on the indoor Computrainer (an excellent tool!) and doing running either outside or at the Kingston Military Community Sports Center which boasts a 25m pool, huge cardio and weight rooms and a 200m indoor track. I plan to head to California in March for 6-8 weeks of training with my coach Siri Lindley. The one race on my calendar that is already set is the Edmonton World Cup on 11 July. It is the qualifier for the third Olympic spot. The first spot has already been given to Jill Savege by virtue of her performance at the Athens World Cup in October 2003. The second spot will be most likely Carol Montgomery who currently has the most podium World Cup finishes (one of the many criteria - which can be read on the Triathlon Canada website). So Edmonton will be my focus event of the year!
I welcome Brooks Canada (running shoes) to my team of supporters. They join a great group, one which has been behind me for at least 5 years and some, for as long as I have been racing as an elite! I would not be racing were it not for your support! I want you to know that you are a part of my journey and I hope you will continue to follow my progress through my email updates to you, my Ottawa Sun articles which will be posted on my website by Ken Parker, and of course my race results.
Thank you Team Donnelly (alphabetical order):
My Family (Dave, Mom, Allen, Hugh, Michelle, Ted, Ann, Larry, Matthew, Jack, Liam)
I recently saw this quote on a friend's website - I reprinted it here for you but could not find an author of the quote - I hope you like it as much as I did when I first read it.
Thank you everyone for your support, and all the best in the coming months of 2004.
|February 23, 2004 -Hair for Cancer|
For those who have seen me over the last year or so, I have grown my hair to quite a long length! At first I started growing it to avoid the high cost of having to get it cut every 4-5 weeks! Then finally it got to a length that I could just put it in a ponytail and do my training. Of course, training in mainly warm environments helped since I didn't have to blow-dry it!
I started entertaining the idea to get it cut short in early 2003, but decided to wait for another year when I learned of a friend who got breast cancer and was undergoing treatment at home in Kingston. When I returned from overseas racing, we met up and I was amazed at the wig she was wearing and how good it made her look! It made me so aware of the fact that something as simple as a wig can help make a person that is undergoing such a hard time, feel a little more normal. They are also treated normally by people around them rather than having people stare or look away when they see baldness that is attributed to cancer treatments.
So I researched hair donations to see if the length of my hair could qualify for a wig! The Canadian Cancer Society has an excellent source of information for locations across Canada that accepts hair for making wigs. Each one states their requirements and I chose a company from Eastern Canada for the fact that it would accept minimum of 8 inches. It takes approximately 3 heads of hair to make one wig! (Many others required at least 10 inches and I didn't really want to look like G.I. Jane!)
The website is: www.cancer.ca and look under "Hair Donations." Most hair salons will do this and if they do not perform this service, they would probably pass you onto another salon that does. Often times, a salon will charge just a nominal fee for styling and if they don't, why not ask them to donate half of your payment to the Cancer Society?
Upon my return home to Kingston in early January, I met my girlfriend who had just undergone her last treatment to let her know of my plans. She was thrilled and even better - she hails from Eastern Canada so my choice of companies was perfect!
So in late January, I did the deed! It was a lot of fun and I recommend that others do it too! My hair dresser simply made small ponytails and measured each of them before cutting them off. Then I gathered them all into an envelope and mailed them away!
So I am back to my short hair now, a blessing in this cold weather since I don't have to spend hours drying it! Even better is that I don't have to carry a brush or comb with me anymore!
Before I conclude, I want to let you know that I asked my friend if I should let others know why I did it and she was supportive in my wish to educate others about this option of giving and how it helps so much in the positive treatment and recovery of cancer patients. So I urge anyone who is thinking of cutting your hair - why not go the little extra and give it all away! It is a lot easier to take of and at the same time, you are making someone else so much happier, and being happy goes a long way in overcoming disease!
Have fun - get lighter!
|February 8, 2004 -Asthma won't keep triathlete sidelined|
By ROB BRODIE, Ottawa Sun
(Sharon Donnelly, a former Orleans resident who now calls Kingston home, represented Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in women's triathlon. As she counts down toward the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, she shares her thoughts with Sun readers in a series of columns)
Every time I sit down to write the latest episode in my Road to Athens series, I am battling a sickness.
So I delay it until I recover, by which time I am so busy that I can't get around to it. So, this being the third time I have been sick in less than seven weeks, I had to get my fingers moving on the keyboard and get on with it, sick or not!
Now, I look out the window and see beautiful sunshine and gentle breezes blowing through the trees. I run downstairs to examine this closer for a much anticipated training run, but I am greeted by a wicked blast of arctic air that makes my nostrils stick together and send me into fits of coughing.
How deceiving! Block out the snow lying on the ground and I was having wishful memories of New Zealand, the site of my last race of 2003.
That race -- the world championships -- was very difficult for me as I had just gotten over a viral infection, for which I was on antibiotics. And allergy season was coming on in Queenstown with a vengeance. Those and other factors spelled disaster and it started even before the swim was finished.
I felt my lungs tightening in the swim and then my breathing was out of control during the transition to the bike portion of the race. I was undergoing the worst asthma attack of my athletic career. I managed to hang on to the second group until the top of the first hill and then my supply of oxygen left me. I had no option but to stop pedalling and recover.
I watched helplessly as other competitors whipped by me, encouraging me to work with them, but I couldn't. It was like sucking air through a straw in a Dairy Queen Blizzard.
Eventually, I hooked up with some of the last groups, but I struggled for the remainder of the race to just finish. Spectators later told me that they heard me wheezing before they saw me, and that they were surprised to see me come around again. But I was determined not to quit; I had started the race, so I had to finish. I knew that I shouldn't have started, but figured I could get through the race okay -- I had no idea that my asthma would get that bad. Obviously, I wasn't managing my asthma well enough and I was determined to sort it out when I returned home to Canada.
10 AMAZING DAYS
But before coming back, I had 10 amazing days in New Zealand with my husband, Dave Rudnicki, who had taken one of his two vacation periods from his one year NATO tour in Bosnia. We rented a car and drove from Queenstown in the south island to Auckland in the North Island. Along the way we did as many activities as we could -- rafting, jet-boating, canyoning, rappelling, caving, and sailing, to name a few. Our trip ended all too soon and we departed Auckland in separate directions -- Dave back to Bosnia and I to Canada.
Christmas at home was wonderful, but it very different compared to being Down Under, where there is not as much commercialism and advertising around the holidays. In New Zealand, we had almost forgotten that Christmas was around the corner (thus the reason for all of the VISA charges at the airport for gifts) because we didn't see a lot of decorations or store advertisements.
We both loved New Zealand, probably for the reasons that most other visitors do: It is like Canada squished into a much smaller land mass, with very friendly people and a strong Maori culture.
As we all know, the start of this new year has not been kind. Every day I question why I decided on Feb. 10 as the day to leave Canada and start my training in California. Why didn't I leave on Jan. 10 and miss all of this wicked weather? The reason is I needed time with friends and family before I escape into my little cocoon and focus 100% on me and my training. Besides, this brutal weather will make me appreciate all of the great days ahead.
Like most of you, I made out my new year's resolutions, but I would rather just call them goals. And, like most of you, I have failed at one or two of these already: First, I cannot give up my coffee, no matter how hard I try. Secondly, I had hoped to get his article in on time, but didn't.
But my other goals are mapped out and include my race schedule for the season leading up to Athens. Again, like most of you, I will keep some of these goals to myself because I feel certain goals should stay private. But these will be become clear when the racing season draws near.
One of my main goals will be to manage my asthma better. By doing so, I measure my peak flow (a numeric value of how much I can breathe out into a simple measuring device) on a regular basis to determine my averages and when I see a large variance, I know that my body is having troubles; so I would increase my medication accordingly.
AVOID ASTHMA TRIGGERS
Avoidance of triggers to my asthma will be crucial, which rules out visiting the homes of most of my friends for the remainder of the year because they all have pets! Finally, maintaining my yearly paperwork with the Centre for Ethics in Sport and my national and international federations is mandatory since my asthma medication must be declared for anti-doping purposes. Simply stated, if I am chosen for a drug test, my urine or blood could show a presence of one of my asthma medications. But because I have declared I need these for a documented respiratory ailment, then my test is marked as negative.
If I were not allowed to use my medications, I would not be able to race, period. I am a strong proponent of drug-free sport and I am happy to do this yearly declaration, if it means keeping sport more true and fair.
So I will end by saying: Keep active, but be careful of these extreme temperatures because they are damaging to the lungs. Try to keep your mouth covered or choose to train indoors, as I do. Or if you have a really flexible job, you can go south to avoid it altogether.
I will continue to train for awhile at the amazing indoor facilities of the Kingston Military and Community Recreation Centre, which boasts a 25-metre pool, huge cardio facilities, spinning and weight rooms and an indoor six-lane 200-metre track. Then I'll head south to put more specific focus into my training.
Stay tuned for my next article -- and yes, I am resetting that new year's resolution and will get them to you regularly, as I had originally promised.
Until then, keep warm, and stick to your goals and new year's resolutions.
|Top of Sharon's Frontpage Archive 2004|