Sunday, July 1, 2012

In the waters with...Marnie McBean

In celebration of our Canadian athletes in London we sat down with Marnie McBean, a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the Guinness Book of World Records, Athlete Mentor for the Canadian Olympic Team and now author of “The Power of More.”

1.  What is your career?  What do you love most about it?
I am (recently!) an author and for the last 6 years I have been a specialist in Athlete Preparation for the Canadian Olympic Committee. I mentor Canadian athletes preparing to go to the Olympic Games. I work with both summer and winter athletes and I love learning about all the different sport cultures while at the same time seeing how the pursuit of our goals follows a common emotional path.

2.  What advice do you give to young Olympic athletes?
The advice I give to Olympic athletes is the same I give to everyone; there are no super heroes- normal people do special things.

3.  What do you love most about your sport?
I love that rowing is a beautiful and graceful sport but that it is much harder than it looks. Training and racing as a rower is a real extreme form of living- it encompasses your mind and your body. I was once told that there are 185 things that you can do wrong in each stroke and the better I got, the more I realized that this was a lie- there are way more than 185 errors that you can make!

4.  If you could clear up one misconception about your profession, what would it be?
No one yells “Stroke…. Stroke…. Stroke…” and even though everyone sees our strong arms and upper bodies- rowers use their legs much more than their arms. Did I mention already that it’s way harder than it looks? I’ve put many other Olympic athletes in my single (a 1-person boat) and they usually flip within 2 or 3 strokes.

5.  How do you stay sane?
Laughter and sweat keeps me sane.

6.  Proudest accomplishment?
The 3 Olympic gold medals might stand out as an obvious answer… but I’m more proud of my commitment to the years of training and what I learned about myself and other people. I put a lot of that into my book– which I’m also extremely proud. I wrote my book – I did not hire someone to do it for me.

7.  Who is your role model or mentor?
Strangely I struggle to answer this. Or – maybe not so strangely which is why I work now to provide Canadian athletes with at least an option. I think Canadians tend to assemble their role models and mentors. I believe we take bits and pieces from people we admire. When I was a kid – there were no active female models on TV or in the movies other than the Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman. (I’m more Lindsay Wagner than Lynda Carter). Martina Navratilova is amazing but I was a fan of Steffi Graff. None of these people were available for me to talk to. I drew a lot from the group of women that I rowed with- particularly the group that I worked with to get to my first Olympics in Barcelona.

8.  Tell us about your first experience with body blitz?
I’ve been to a water spa in Japan before and was surprised by how comfortable and open it was there, such a contrast to the culture outside the spa. I saw the same at body blitz – everyone seemed to be equal and chill; quiet and respectful without being conservative.

9.  What is your favourite part of the water circuit and why?

I loved the steam room and then plunging into the cold pool– I think I could spend a lot of time going back and forth between those two. The steam and the eucalyptus filled my lungs and seemed so fresh. The cold pool is so good for the muscles and recovery.

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