My Olympic Dedication

I won the Olympic Trials 5000m to take one of the automatic qualifying spots for the Olympics. I feel so honoured to be representing Canada at my first international games, relief that the hard work over the past 11 years has resulted in something so great, and excitement to line up with the world’s best.

2016 Canadian Championships and Rio Selection Trials at Foote Field in Edmonton, AB Canada.
Credit: Jody Bailey

I also can’t help but feel as though there is a small hole in my heart. One that can only be filled with the celebration of achievement of a daughter with her mother.

My mom played a large role in my athletic career, though she only got to experience the very beginnings of my journey in track and field. She died of lymphoma in May of 2005. I was 14 years old and in the thick of my first ever outdoor track season. For this, my mom and outdoor track have been intrinsically linked in my mind since the beginning.

My mom was a dedicated recreational runner herself. My memories of childhood are dotted with glimpses of my mom running on the treadmill in our basement or along the beach during family vacations. I was always curious about the activity, but never daring enough to go with her on a run.

But when I began to show an interest in track, my mom was the first person to encourage me to focus on it, rather than continuing to pursue soccer. For whatever reason, she was able to notice a natural talent, or perhaps potential in running that I didn’t have in other sports.

She encouraged me to join my first track club in grade 9 and together we learned about the sport. She would pick me up from practice, bringing me recovery snacks before I ever knew anything about recovery. I would share the details of the workout. She would listen curiously, patiently learning a little more every time. At this point, she couldn’t run herself and feared that she might never be able to run again.

My mom wasn’t overly involved and never put unneeded pressure on me to perform. She was supportive, gently pushing me to do my best, and always my biggest fan. Through her sickness in the winter of 2004, she still came to every indoor race.

During that time, running became my escape from reality. An activity that I could control amongst all the chaos of hospital visits, failed treatments and uncertainty. I wished everyday that we could have gone on a run together, that she too could enjoy the momentary freedom.

There is no way of hiding that my progression to the Olympics hasn’t been smooth. But every time, over the past 11 years that I questioned what I was doing and thought seriously about quitting, I would think about what my mom would say. Every time I could almost imagine her saying, “Not yet.”

When my mom died, I knew there would be times in my life, perhaps graduation, or getting married, that I would want her to be there. I have never felt this more than right now.

I’m dedicating my experience in Rio to my mom, Carmelina Seccafien. When I line up on August 16th for the 5000m heats, I hope to exemplify the qualities that she battled cancer with: courage, strength and grace.

3 Comment

  1. Paul Renda says: Reply

    .Dear Andrea,

    You probably to do remember me but I am your Mother’s cousin Paul.I moved out West 22 years ago.I did get to see your Mother,only briefly just before she passed.So unfair !!

    Your Mother would be so proud of you right now of your continuance and determination to continuing to do your best(especially under the circumstances that you had to endure) and finally reaching your ultimate goal of going to the Olympics.What an accomplishment to say the least.I read your dedication to your Mother and it brought tears to my eyes.

    I wish you all the best Andrea and I will keep my eyes focused on you.What number will you be wearing because I would not be able to recognize your lovely face.

    Much love and compassion,

    Paul Renda

  2. Enzo Fonte says: Reply

    Hello Andrea,

    I am your neighbor and I knew your family well. I am sure your mother is there with you every time you race and if you could see her she would be smiling ear to ear saying to everyone in heaven ‘that’s my daughter”.

    Everyone in Guelph is so very proud of you. Lou and Jane talk about you all time and I am so happy you made it and got to represent Canada. Now go grab that Gold and bring it home.

    Lots of love to you and your family,

    Enzo Fonte

  3. Jo-Ann Bornino says: Reply

    Hi Andrea
    Your dedication was absolutely beautiful and tear jerking. I know your mother will be very proud of you on your accomplishments. Congratulations on your run. You did fantastic.
    All the best as you continue your quest in the future and know your mother will always be watching.

    Love your cousins
    Rocco & Jo-Ann Bornino

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