Home CommentaryStudent Life In the chase for Olympic dreams, it’s all or nothing

In the chase for Olympic dreams, it’s all or nothing

by Archives December 2, 2008

She sat in a coffee shop staring at her Université de Montréal textbooks, wondering whether law was her true passion or she had simply pushed herself too far off-course.
“It’s hard, you know. For the past eight years I’ve had a clear path. I knew what I wanted to do. It was go to the Olympics,” said Andréanne Morin.
Morin made it to the games twice within those eight years, but she hasn’t reached her ultimate dream of winning an Olympic medal in rowing.
The thought of one day feeling the weight of an Olympic medal around her neck kept Morin going through 12 years of arduous training and an agonizing injury.
Prior to rowing, Morin was a competitive skier, and for a short time the two overlapped. “She definitely wanted to compete in both these sports,” said her friend Dalia Kachef, recalling a conversation they had when they were 15 years-old. “But she had to choose one. She wasn’t doing well enough in skiing to move to the next level of competition. So we talked about her options, and soon after she retired from competitive skiing and embarked on her rowing career. ”
As soon as she started rowing, Morin set the bar high aiming for an Olympic medal. “That was Plan A, and there was only a Plan A,” she said.
Now, Morin might have to be content with being a two-time Olympian. “I wouldn’t change my experience for anything. But part of me knows, if I did have a medal it would mean the end,” she said.
In Beijing this summer, Morin, seven other oarsmen and their coxswain made it to the final rowing event as part of Canada’s Olympic team. This was Morin’s second time rowing in an Olympic final; her boat placed seventh during the 2004 games.
Any thoughts of defeat were now far from her mind, though. Calm and focused in their ready positions, waiting for the “go” signal, they were set to fight for a position on the podium. When their boat crossed the finish line, Morin’s team placed fourth, 0.7 seconds out of second place.
Darcy Marquardt, who was also in the women’s eight in Beijing, met Morin in the summer of 2001. “When we first met, I got the impression right away that, if she really wanted something she would go after it with all her heart until she succeeded,” she said.
Now Morin is left weighing the consequences of her athletic career. Prior to the 2004 Games, Morin was an undergrad at Princeton University. When she found out classes would still be in session when selection for the Olympic team was happening, she had to make a decision. Leaving her graduating class and her Princeton rowing team behind were two sacrifices she would have to make to try out for the Athens team. “To give up my Class of ’04 and graduate Class of ’06 was a risk,” she said. “It was a gamble, not knowing whether or not I would make the Olympic team, whether or not we would qualify.”
Morin ended up making the team and her boat qualified to go to the games, but she didn’t get her medal. “I was very shook up after Athens,” Morin said. “But I had other things to go back to. I had school, I had my friends. I was young.”
Morin returned to Princeton and graduated with a 3.5 GPA.
With a degree in one hand and still hoping for Olympic victory, Morin had to make another decision: get a job, or row full-time then try to make the Beijing team. She felt she had a valid shot at a medal, so she decided to stick to rowing.
“Looking back,” she said, “you realize it’s one of those decisions that makes your life take a different course. Who knows what I would have by now if I hadn’t gone to Beijing. I could own a car, have a career, own a condo.”
Morin’s overwhelming hunger for a medal has left her with little but a feeling of loss which will follow her around until she accomplishes her goal. “I don’t know if my life would be different if I had a medal, but I’m certain I would say I’m retired now if I had one.”
Morin still hasn’t made up her mind about the 2012 games. In order to keep her options open, she started taking courses in law at UdeM. “I’ll wait to see what happens in the next two years,” she said. “But I’m not ready to stop.”

Related Articles

Leave a Comment