During a year punctuated by political stories of shock and scandal, Heather Moyse quietly positioned herself to give Canadians something to cheer about early in 2014.
In just 36 days, she’ll try to make history in Sochi, Russia, as she and teammate Kaillie Humphries defend the bobsleigh gold medal they won at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Islanders are already proud of their native daughter just for earning a spot on the team after a comeback year that’s been nothing short of inspirational.
There are so many values the 35- year- old Summerside native models as she prepares to defend the medal in her third trip to the Olympic Games. Values such as accepting a challenge — or challenges — and of never giving up. Throw in the values of perseverance and an old- fashioned work ethic and you begin to understand how Moyse consistently turns challenges into accomplishments.
Rewind to December a little over a year ago. In an interview with her hometown newspaper, Moyse said she dreamed of returning to international competition and to represent Canada in two separate sports — a World Cup rugby tournament in June and the Winter Olympics in February 2014.
Achievable, you might say, for an athlete who had already proven herself in both sports as well as cycling at the international level. “This next year and a half could be it for me,” she told the Journal- Pioneer, “but I like challenges.” Indeed. At the time of the interview, Moyse was wearing a hip brace and was barely able to walk. A few weeks earlier she underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum and two bone spurs on the head of her femur. In an interview around the same time with the Globe and Mail, she continued to talk about challenges after deciding to focus her attention on two elite- level sports. “So let’s just throw in a hip surgery and start from scratch and make it a really big challenge.”
With her goals now clearly defined, Moyse was motivated to work hard to achieve them.
She began an aggressive training period and six months later, she accomplished her first goal. She was named to Canada’s rugby team that went on to capture silver at the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow.
Then, after turning her full attention to bobsleigh — a sport she had been away from for more than two years — she recorded two of the best times of her career. She won two gold medals and one silver medal after being reunited with Humphries. And less than three weeks ago, she was named to the 16member Olympic bobsleigh team.
That sets the stage for her latest and perhaps greatest challenge. In the history of the bobsleigh event, no woman’s team has ever repeated as Olympic champion. Does anyone doubt that she’s up to the challenge?
I’ve never met Moyse but I have attended several of her public appearances, including her torch run in Summerside before the 2010 Olympics. But like many Islanders I feel I know her and the values she clearly embraces – discipline, determination, believing in yourself, tenacity, respect, kindness and dedication, to name a few.
I also love the fact that despite all her success, she’s never forgotten where she comes from. Within hours of being named to the bobsleigh team last month she was back on P. E. I. to “recharge” her batteries before the Olympics. Often, when visiting the Island, she supports worthy fundraisers and gives motivational talks.
With an infectious smile and winning personality, Heather Moyse has become a terrific ambassador for Canada and especially for Prince Edward Island.
She has already given us much to cheer about and no matter what happens in Sochi, she will continue to be a most worthy role model for young Islanders who aspire simply to do their best — in sports and in life. It simply doesn’t get better than that. Happy New Year!
Wayne Young is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.