On my trip to Asia, I really had no plan on where or what I was going to do. In hindsight, I should have done more research on all the amazing things in Southeast Asia. I went to Bangkok, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia. I am so glad I had seen and did everything on this trip. But if I could have done it differently I would have gone to Indonesia then to the Philippines. The way I did my trip I went from one rainy season to another rainy season to another rainy season. It rained almost the entire time I was in Asia.
The Philippines was incredible! I met so many amazing people regardless of all the rain. Well I was in the Philippines I got food poisoning, fell off the scooter, fell down a mountain and got heat stroke twice. On the flip side Filipinos are fun people, the scuba diving was amazing, island hoping, cliff jumping and all the hidden views were breath taking.
When I went to Indonesia I went to three large islands; Java, Bali and Tenggara.
On Java and Bali, I climbed three volcanoes. I thought when I got to Indonesia all I wanted to do was surf. I hated it, I was terrible at it and by the end of my holiday I wanted nothing to do with surfing. All I wanted to do was see the sights and meet more people. I climbed Mount Bromo, mount Ijen and mount Batur. All hikes I needed to get up at 1 a.m. so that I can make it to the top of the mountain Before Sunrise. It was worth it every single time. I want to go back and experience more of these sites. The most interesting volcano I went in was Mount Ijen! It has the largest sulfur Lake in the world. It changes colours depending on the weather. It also has the most incredible blue flames. I went to Ubud which is a town in Bali. I cannot wait to go back and do a relaxing Yoga Retreat there. When I went to Tenggara island I went scuba diving with insanely large fish, sharks, Turtles and snakes. I also saw Komodo dragons which are extinct animals which was pretty cool!
On my way home from Asia I had a stopover in Miami. This was such a great idea. Originally my friends were going to meet me in Miami for my 30th birthday but flights became too expensive for the girls to come out and see me. No big deal because this is a great opportunity to get over my jet lag. A 12-hour time change and 32 hour flight equals a very rough time. When I was in Miami I got my Olympic tattoo done. I love it it is of a phoenix rising out of the Sun. To me it symbolizes my wrestling career because of all of the trials and tribulations I have experienced and I always risen to the occasion.
When I got back to Canada I was asked to do a public speaking event for Bourgault Industries. I was so thankful for this opportunity and everything that they have done for me. I talked in front of 250 people and it was such a great learning experience.
I have been meaning to write about my journey sooner but this is the first chance I have had to write. I am on a sleeper boat from Coron to Manila. We left at 9pm and we were supposed to arrive at noon but the weather has extended our boat trip now we are supposed to arrive at 5:30pm. 20 hours is a long time to be on a boat but the boat as air conditioning, a bed and good company.
My trip started off interesting…. When I landed in Bangkok, the airline lost my luggage. After 25 hours of flying, I was not very impressed but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. A 1-hour train ride, 20 min cab ride and 2 hours walking around Khao San road looking for my hostel. It was so hard enough with just my small backpack; I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if I had to lug around my large bag. I was in Bangkok for 4 days by myself before I met up with a tour group that took me through Cambodia.
First day I had to go apply for my Vietnamese visa. Took forever to find the embassy, I got lost 3 times on my way there. Didn’t do much better on the way back. When I got back to my hostel I was hoping my luggage would be there (it wasn’t). So I just wondered around my area waiting for my clothes to get there. I think that day I got 4-5 Thai massages! They are the best! That night I went to china town. The next day I went to the grand palace and all the beautiful temples nearby. It was so hot outside but to enter the temples you had to wear clothes that covered your knees and shoulders (AKA too many clothes for the heat!). My last 2 days I went on day trips out of Bangkok to see the floating market and the old city of Thailand; Ayuttaya. I am glad I went to see these things but both days I thought it would only last half the day and both times I did not get back till late at night. I was starting to get very frustrated with my poor decision making skills. By this point I was ready to join my tour group and not make decisions for 10 days.
I am so happy I went on this tour because the guide was from Cambodia and was able to show us more of Cambodia then I thought I was going to see. There was 18 people on the tour and they all were wonderful and were a lot of fun to be around. This tour did also remind me why I didn’t want to go in a large group. Everything takes longer; bathroom breaks, walking around, waiting for the stragglers, taking so many group photos, ordering food at a restaurant, paying the bill, waiting for everyone.... I know I wanted to be a sheep for a week but I guess I was still the black sheep.
Seam Rep – Amkor Wat and all the other temples were so insanely amazing! I was there for almost 9 hours exploring this area. It was the best! Everything there was so incredible! Best place in Cambodia for sure! Phenom Peon - We went to the killing field and to the jail. Sihanoukville - this part of our trip we were supposed to go out to all the amazing islands in Cambodia but the weather was not great and we were not allowed to go out on the boats. It was pretty disappointing. The weather has not been Ideal on most of my trip. I guess I should have thought about my destinations a bit more before I went to an area that is in the middle of their rainy season. We did go to a really beautiful waterfall for an afternoon when it stopped raining. We also had a few home meals in Cambodia where we sit on the floor and share family style meals. The food was the bomb! So tasty.
I was only in Vietnam for 3 days. I think I should have stayed longer. I guess this just means I will have to come back to this area later in my life J maybe with friends. The first night there we stayed in a family’s home, had some amazing food. We went to a floating market, had some amazing coffee! We reached the end of the group tour in Ho Chi Mahi. This city was massive with 9 million people living there. Most people get around on bikes. I have never been so nervous crossing the street. We went to the war museum and to the underground tunnels. Vietnam is a beautiful place, and I miss the tasty coffee!
The first week I have been in the Philippines has not been as amazing as I would have hoped. The day I was leaving Vietnam I started to feel sick. I have been sick for a week. The weather was not ideal; there was a typhoon that went through the North part of Philippines. In the 8 days in Palawan there has only been 2 amazing days. I went island hopping in El Nido to some pretty incredible beaches and lagoons. I took a ferry up to Coron to see the twin lagoons and Kayangan lake but it rained all 3 days I was there. I also wanted to get my scuba certification in Coron and see the ship wrecks but I still do not feel well enough. Maybe in a few days when I get to Malapascua island I will feel well enough to try scuba diving.
I am looking forward to my second half of my trip! I think the weather will clear up and my traveller’s sickness will start to calm down! Malapascua is going to be amazing! I hope I get to see some Thresher Sharks.
I am an Olympian! I am pretty awesome… I made it to the most prestigious competition ever created. All my trials and tribulations I have gone through never slowed me down to my goal. I am a fighter and I had to work to get there and it was worth it. Less the 1% of people can say they have gone to the Olympics. It is so incredible being one of these elite athletes. Also to experience the games with the ‘6pack’ was amazing! These girls are the best people I could have ever asked for to be my teammates. Being a part of the Canadian team and to wrestle in front of screaming fans was pretty incredible experience.
Wrestling has taken me around the world! I have found a love for travel I don’t think I would have found otherwise. As much as I love to travel, I also love being home. It feels great to be back living in Saskatoon. I finally have some down time. Trying to find my spontaneous side; I am not every good at it. Life is about memories and experiences. I will die with memories, not dreams.
The Olympics did not finish the day I competed. It did not finish on closing ceremonies. It did not finish when I got home from the games. Wrestling is in my blood. Competition is in my soul. Determination is in my heart. The dream of the Olympics is inside me forever. The journey has no destination nor end, it only finishes a chapter. Like any good book you can’t wait to start reading the next chapter. The only problem is where does the chapter begin? Do I continue wrestling? Do I move on to new challenges? Who I am without wrestling? So many questions no way to make a decision anytime soon…
On my journey to the Olympics there has always been an end goal. A destination. A desire. A dream. An outcome. Whatever positive spin you want to put on my journey; I did not reach my final goal. I did not spend the past 10 years trying to go to the Olympics; I have spent them trying to WIN the Olympics. I did not go to the Olympics to be a participant; I went there to be a competitor. I went there to stand on the podium, represent my country and hear the Canadian National Anthem. I failed. I fell short. I feel like all my sacrifice, injuries, hard work, determination was for nothing. I let myself down.
Right now all I see is the ugly because I am so passionate and driven for that one goal but I know in the end I will see only the good side of my journey. Everything takes time. I would never take back any of my decisions, sacrifices nor injuries; I would do it all over again! I'm so proud of what I've accomplished and everything it has taught me. If wrestling or being an Olympian were easy everyone would do it. I am not everyone I am less than 1%. I deserved it.
I am not depressed, nor am I sad; I am just disappointed. I did not go for the glory or fame. I went because I love wrestling. There is nothing better than working for something you are so passionate about! I am lost without a plan or a purpose. When planning is all I've done for the past 10 years, I don't know my next steps. It is weird not to know but it is so exciting to know this experience will give me many option and opportunities in the next part of my journey. In the end I know the outcome does not matter, it does not change who I am or what the sport has given me.
Are you done wrestling?
I do not know if I am done wrestling. I know I emotionally cannot handle any more injuries for a while. But I also know I do not want the Olympics to be my last competition I ever compete in. I need to step away from the sport for a few months and then re-evaluate.
What are you doing now?
I have a small plan! I would be lost without one. September I am trying to organize my new life back in Saskatoon. Which includes finding tenants to share my house with me, unpack, get furniture, etc. October and November, I will be traveling in SE Asia. After so many years of thinking of wrestling first I finally am going on a holiday. I think I deserve one. December I will start to become a ‘normal’ adult. I have a job lined up with Craven Sport Services. I cannot wait to be a part of their team. January I am hoping to get my puppy! I will have to wait and see.
How does it feel to be back in your house?
It feels amazing to be home! There is a sense of pride living in something you own; something you have worked for. I just wish it didn’t take 1 month for my cable and internet to be hooked up or 6 weeks for my furniture to get here. I will feel more settled in December when everything starts to feel more cozy.
1. Friends and Family
My friends and family have done so much for me over the years and it is time to give back! I want to spend time with them and get to show them how much I appreciate them. These last few years I have been selfish; it is time to think of those who have been there for me every step of the way!
I am so excited to go home and enjoy going out for a meal or two. Being able to go out with friends and not have to think is this the best fuel for my next workout will be a great feeling. Nothing tastes as sweet and as a gilt free day.
4. Share my Journey
My road to the Olympics was not an easy one; many injuries and setbacks. I want to be able to share my journey through media and public speaking. No dream is to big!
I am wanting an Olympic tattoo like no one else. I appreciate people that get large artistic tattoos. It is time for me to get one of my own. My tattoo will be a Phoenix flying out of my sun on my back with the Olympic rings placed in the fire/tail of the Phoenix. The Phoenix symbolizes my wrestling journey; all of my injuries and setbacks may have broken me down but I always flight back and come back a stronger person.
Wrestling has taken me around the world but I am excited to travel without living in the training venue. A few places I am thinking of going to is South East Asia (Cambodia, Philippians, Indonesia, Thailand) and/or New Zealand. I am thinking I will try to go in October and November.
8. Body Recovery
The past few years of wrestling has not been kind to my body; I have had countless knee injuries, dislocated elbows, ongoing back problems, and more small nagging body parts. I am excited to take some time away from the sport so I can remove all the Band-Aids and heal my body. This is not to say I am done competing but I want to enjoy the sport injury free again.
9. Back to school
Ever since I finished my Kinesiology degree in 2010, I have dedicated 100% of my efforts into sport. It is time to go back to school. I am very excited for a new chapter in my life especially since I know what I want to do with my education. I want to work towards getting my MBA. This means I need to start studying for the GMAT and see what happens from there.
Thank you so much for all your kind messages! I could hear you cheering for me all the way in Canada. I am loving the Jilla Killa t-shirt pictures. It just reminds me of how many people that love me and tuned in to watch me compete regardless of the result. I lost my first match against a very tough athlete. Definitely not how I wanted my Olympic tournament to go; however I have no regrets. I stepped on that mat ready to wrestle and I left it all on the mat.
Just finished my last training camp before I leave to Rio; it was a gruelling 10 days long in St. Catharines. It was very convenient to have it where I have been training because I was able to sleep in my own bed. There were 6 countries there; which means lots of challenging training partners. USA, Germany, Finland, Latvia and Estonia. Most of the Canadian Olympic team did not end up competing in the tournament for one reason or another. For me it was mostly because I was focusing on getting the most out of the camp and trying to stay healthy for the next 40 days.
This Camp was longer than most, so the coaches planned a few fun things for us to do on our days off. One of the afternoons we went on a Jet Boat tour that took us into the rapids. It was so much fun! We got very wet and I got a little too much sun on my face. The aloe vera was very necessary the next few days.
In between training sessions one day CBC came in for interviews and a photo shoot. They even did our hair and makeup! It was a very rushed afternoon but so worth every minute. The following day we also had our Official Wrestling Olympic Team Announcement. It was amazing and so much fun. I felt like a mini celebrity. It was held in Niagara Falls. It was the perfect day; the weather was amazing.
After a hard training camp, we are taking a few days off the mats to recover and refocus. I made a last minute decision to come back to Saskatoon. I am only home for 3 days but it will be worth every minute.
Coming up for me… I am super excited for Canada Day. The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has asked Olympians to take part in their celebration. SO…. I am going to be at the Blue Jays game. We might get to meet the players, go on the field, be a part of the first pitch and get a jersey with our names on them! So cool! Then we will go to a beach party for the rest of the afternoon. What a great way to celebrate being Canadian. These kinds of events are only getting me more excited for Rio.