Olympic gold medallist Heather Moyse was overcome by emotion moments after touching down in Prince Edward Island on Wednesday.
An estimated crowd of about 150 people was at the Charlottetown Airport to welcome the Summerside native home after she competed in Sochi, Russia. Another larger welcome home is planned at Credit Union Place in Summerside Friday at 6 p.m.
Moyse, 35, said it was great to breathe the salt air upon stepping off the plane. While talking to reporters minutes later, she paused a moment to compose herself.
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“It’s just so good to be home,” said the two-time Olympic gold medallist.
Friends Kendra Mills and Dawn Sullivan were among the first people to hug Moyse.
“It’s overwhelming. We’re just so proud of her. We’re just overjoyed,” Mills said.
Mills, who has known Moyse for more than 20 years, said everyone knew she had special talents growing up. She was gifted, driven and had a great belief in her abilities.
Moyse has come back from a serious ankle injury in September 2010, and hip surgery in November 2012, to get back to the top of the bobsled world.
“She can overcome anything,” Mills said. “It makes her better and stronger and more driven and more focused.”
Sister Mary Deighan, who now lives in Charlottetown, grew up a few blocks away from the Moyse home and followed her career from the Olympian’s days at Three Oaks Senior High in Summerside.
“The . . . Olympics have been so exciting. It was difficult to turn the TV off because Heather might appear,” Deighan said.
She was at the airport four years ago when Moyse returned home after winning gold at the Vancouver Games. She wanted to be there again this time, but was having a hard time finding when her flight would arrive.
Undeterred, Deighan drove to the airport three times looking for the information before finding out the special moment would take place Wednesday morning.
“I woke up early this morning, no storm, so I knew that the Summerside group would get down,” Deighan said before Moyse’s arrival. “It’s very exciting.”
Cornwall’s Wayne T. Wright also wanted to be on hand for Moyse’s return.
“I’ve been very proud of Heather, as most Islanders are,” he said.
Wright wondered what Moyse would do next.
“She keeps surprising us. Even after her injuries, she bounces back like a rubber ball. She is brave girl and she’s a lovely, lovely girl.”
Moyse is unsure what the future holds. She has already been asked about the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“Right now, I just want to enjoy this moment and enjoy the medal with everybody,” Moyse said.
“You can’t underestimate the power of having an Olympic gold medal, let alone two,” she added. “All I want to use it for is a tool to motivate and inspire people from all across the country.”
Moyse said her body was sore after the final run.
“It wasn’t until we finished and we were walking through the media junket that all of a sudden things just started seizing up,” she said. “I think your body holds on for so long.”
There has been little time to seek treatment or rest since the gold medal run.
“I am excited to kind of sit in a nice hot bath again and let my muscles relax from everything.”
JUST THE FACTS
Who – A three-time Olympic bobsledder, who has teamed with Kaillie Humphries to win back-to-back gold medals. The team also were Canada’s flag bearers for the closing ceremony in Sochi, Russia on Sunday.
Hometown – Summerside.
Age – 35.
Favourite mottos – Live to inspire and believe in the possibilities.
Online – http://www.heathermoyse.com
Occupation – Athlete, motivational speaker, occupational therapist.