Heather Moyse has been an outstanding rugby player for Canada in both the 15s and Sevens codes and earlier this year, together with Kaillie Humphries, she also successfully defended her Olympic bobsled crown in Sochi. On #OlympicDay we celebrate Moyse's appointment as rugby's IOC Athlete Role Model for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
IRB: Heather, how does it feel to be asked to be an Athlete Role Model for the Nanjing Youth Games?
Heather Moyse: Well it is an honour to even be asked for such a position. To be considered someone who is worthy of representing not even just a country but going to this international level and being a role model for all of these athletes, it is pretty amazing.
From where you stand as a double Olympic champion, how important is Nanjing and the Youth Olympics?
Well the Youth Olympics were not around when I was growing up, so for me I think it is a good step. I think it is a great experience for young athletes to have experience at a multi-sport Games. It kind of gives you a sense of what could come if they decided to keep going and try and make their way to the Olympic Games.
As an Athlete Role Model in Nanjing, what advice will you be giving them?
I am not sure what format it will be, but I would hope that I will have an opportunity to be sitting in on a Q&A. I think when athletes are given the opportunity to ask questions on things that concern them the most I think that is where the most benefit can be achieved. I think they can be questions from ‘how do you make those next steps’ or ‘what is your training regime’ or ‘what are your opinions on diet’. Even questions like how do you handle pressures of when you are surrounded by the idea of maybe not pushing the boundaries but breaking these boundaries to try and make yourself better that aren’t necessarily legal. I think they are at an age where it will be even eye-opening to me to know the concerns that are going through their minds right now, so any way that I can help them, assist them or guide them through some of their choices and decision-making I will be pleased to do so.
How important is it for athletes like yourself to inspire or engage with the next generation?
I think it is really important to engage with youth and athletes from the next generation, I think that is how everyone learns and how you can see things and hear about things that are beyond your immediate environment and how things are going to work or how things could possibly unfold. It helps with life choices and decision-making, when you see what someone else has done or what they have been able to accomplish. It puts a lot of things in perspective and I think is motivating.
Looking back to when you started out, what was the best bit of advice you were given at an early age?
For me I always just played because I enjoyed it and I think for me because I enjoyed it so much it wasn’t a job and I just loved it. I love the social aspect of the sport and a former coach of mine said he thinks I did so well because I didn’t necessarily take it as seriously because I just played for the love of it. There is so much that can happen and I think at that age you still need to remember why you are playing because there are so many pressures that come along with trying to reach the next level. I think that you will be more able to reach the next level if you remind yourself why you are playing and keep enjoying what you do.
But I also think that athletes at that age need to truly believe that it is possible to attain those next levels and to become an Olympic athlete in their sport. If they realise that someone has got to make that team, someone has got to make the Olympics, there is no reason why it can’t be that athlete sitting in front of me. If I can just make even some of those athletes believe that it can be them then it is going to be worth it.
After the pure enjoyment of playing sport at any level, what is it that kicks in to make you an Olympic champion?
Enjoyment just keeps you motivated to keep going, but the competitiveness, it is about focus and when you are going to the Olympics it does become a full-time job … that is my job. Your training hours and you have to enjoy it to be ok with the choices and some sacrifices you have to make in order to achieve your goal.
I think my biggest piece of advice when you reach that point is that you want to get to the end of your journey, whether that is at the Olympic Games or even an Olympic trial, and you want to be able to look back on your entire journey to that point and have no regrets on any of the decisions you have made.
You need to be able to look back on that journey and take a big deep breath and say I have done everything I can to be here, I have no regrets on the path that I took to get here and therefore whatever the result is, you can walk away knowing that you did everything that you could, there are no excuses and you have no regrets. You can’t control what other athletes do or how they train, all you can do is control what you yourself do.
Tell us what goes on in the mind of an Olympic champion just before you win a gold medal?
I think every athlete is going to be experiencing something different. I may be speculating here but I think a lot of Olympic champions will say they become Olympic champions because that routine that they did or that game that they played or that race that they ran, sometimes they don’t even remember it. You are not thinking any more, the thinking happens when you lead up to that moment, the thinking happens before you step on the ice or on the field and it is really just doing what you have trained so hard to do and you just let your body take over. It is pretty cool.