Updated: Oct 11, 2022
It's Mental Health Day and I want to speak to you about Resilience.
I know it's a buzz word now but I'm not a fan.
Resilience, when looked up is defined as coming back to its original form.
My question is why?
Why would I want to come back from something not learning anything?
I would rather adapt. Use the lessons learned and be stronger in the next round.
The Olympic Games
I’ve been to 2 : competed at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA and then was on Team 2008- the information Task Force for the Toronto 2008 bid who went to the Sydney 2000 Games.
1996 could’ve gone better.... I went into the Games injured with a dislocating shoulder (tore my labrum clean off in the semi finals of the trials). I was tired from qualifying, and they made me change my judogi just before going on.
So qualifying was a brand new thing in ‘96 and for women of the Pan-Am union there were only 2 spots per category after the top 8 world ranked were selected. Actually, it worked in my favour as the American had an automatic berth and the Cuban was in the top 8 being World Champion. Through the year, the Cuban-born Venezuelan snatched the first berth right under everyone’s noses and left the second spot between myself and the Brazilian. We were tied in points. So it was proposed a fight off to happen in Puerto Rico, I think it was, best 2 out of 3 in the December.
It then got postponed.
Keep in mind this was just to qualify. I still needed to win nationals.
It was postponed to February.
Then it was postponed to March, then again to the end of April.
Each time, I was tailoring my training to peek at this event.
I get a call from Captain, my national coach saying, “Niki, about the fight off...” He couldn’t finish with all the ‘niceties’. I was throwing down the phone.
“Wait! Wait! It’s ok, they’ve cancelled it. They’ve picked you!”
A true phenomenon occurred. Niki Jenkins was stunned silent.
But good news!
So I had to win Nationals which I did, however, landing on my shoulder (I do apologise to the girl who’s nose I crunched 😞) and tore my labrum. Thank goodness for adrenaline which took me through the final.
It’s kind of synchronicity that I write this on Mental Awareness Day as my next portion of my story is at the actual Games.
When I finally got to the on-deck area, after the judogi fiasco, I asked for a minute alone in the curtained off area they provided.
This might sound a bit crazy to some but I experienced what can only be described as an out of body experience.
I started sobbing, like ugly ugly crying.
I openned my eyes and was literally beside myself. My ghostly form shook me and sternly said, ‘Get it together Woman!! We haven’t come this far, to get this far!’
So I did.
Dried my face on my Plan B gi, and walked out into the lights, the noise, the crowd and the French opponent. I nearly armlocked her but nearly, against a wazari, doesn’t cut it.
I was done.
Ooooooh so done!
It was a while before I wanted to see a judo mat again.
2000 Sydney was an opportunity of a lifetime! Our team led a VIP service to athletes, supporters, stakeholders and influencers. As it happens, CBC asked me to commentate as Nico Gill, was favoured to do well. My first live commentary ever and it was the finals of the Olympics Games.
Baptism by fire.
I then met the Love of my Life, Neil and life then spun a very different direction from there.
These are the elements that create us, I have no regrets, only some not-so-great experiences, which I dub The Dark Ages. They were really dark and fodder for a future blog. But I have learned from them, tried to use them to shape a good person with a great attitude towards life.
I’m happy to share more privately with and when anyone who needs to hear it and to let them know it can get better, there is ALWAYS someone who cares for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
I have been there.
I know I’ll always #asktwice