I've been reminded in recent weeks of ground-breaking Olympian Billie Jean King's rather prosaic words: "Champions keep playing until they get it right." You only need to glimpse Procter and Gamble's Thank You Mom campaign videos to get a sense of the rigorous and repetitive physical training they undergo, not to mention the endless sacrifice of the athletes and their supportive families. I've also been enamored lately with the individual styles of athletes who aren't shy about letting their own personalities shine through. It gives me a sense of who they are as private individuals. I particularly relish those moments when athletes reveal a little more of their gutsy or heart-felt side, show some of the spirit that drives them as individuals, not just as Olympic hopefuls. Take Canadian boxer Mary Spencer, who's bound for the London Olympics, and Australian runner Michelle Jenneke whose Olympic dream was just dashed recently in Barcelona. When it comes to gratitude, Mary Spencer packs a punch [caption id="attachment_11942" align="aligncenter" width="270" caption="Boxer Mary Spencer: honouring the women who came before her (Courtesy: P&G)"] [/caption] Mary Spencer's road to the Olympics hasn't been easy. It's no secret that women who've pursued boxing have met with challenges both inside and outside the ring. Not only is she a successful athlete, Mary is also the new face of P&G CoverGirl. So she's no shrinking violet. She's got something to say, but what I find truly impressive, is that it's not always about her. Take a recent CBC interview in which Spencer focused not on her own journey, but on the women who came before her. Here's a snippet of that interview:
With women's boxing about to make its Olympic debut, I can't help but think of the women boxers who came before me and paved the way for me to be where I am right now, doing what I'm doing. A big part of me is saddened that they had to miss out on all of this. There were a lot of great women boxers in the past who were a big part of making the sport what it is today. When I was a rookie on the Canadian team in 2004, my hero was Jennifer Smith-Ogg, a 60 kg world champion from London, Ont. She drove more than two hours a day to train at her boxing club in Sarnia, all after a day's work as a police officer. She was skilled and confident. When Jenn fought, she took no prisoners. What I remember most about Jenn as a teammate was her unselfish giving of advice and encouragement. It helped mould me into the boxer I am today.And where Mary Boxer isn't shy about putting her heart into her sport, Australian hurdler Michelle Jenneke doesn't hesitate to throw her hip into it - literally. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EIveHwQcgU The spirited 19-year-old from New South Wales, Australia, who almost made it to the London Olympics, has became famous for her pre-race 'warm-up dance.' And this takes chutzpah. There have been cheers and, yes, even a few jeers from the stuffy side. Her video clip has gone viral. She clearly doesn't rely on her sexy moves to propel her through the 100-m hurdle. What I love is her unabashed, let's-have-some-fun approach. She's simply being herself. She's driven to compete and, as the song says, girls just wanna have fun. And there's nothing wrong with that. What did you think of Michelle Jenneke's pre-warm-up dance?