John Flood experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Not first hand, but darn close.
Flood, a native Islander taking part in his first Olympics, performed the role of therapist to a number of Canadian athletes.
The country’s golden achievers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir provided Flood, as well as millions of Canadians, cause for bursting pride and loud celebration.
Flood had a hand – well, two hands – in the exhilarating gold medal performance of the Canadian ice dancers.
The 37-year-old physiotherapist who works in Montreal for B2Ten, a privately funded group that provides training and preparation services to elite amateur athletes, started treating Virtue and Moir in the summer.
He carted his limbering gear to Japan in November to work on Canada’s skating darlings. He treated the pair during the competition every day for a week.
While he leaned into Virtue and Moir to soothe their aches and pains, he also saw the pair lean on him for moral support.
“We had a very open dialogue,’’ he says.
“At times, I was just a sounding board and maybe they would just vent with what was bothering them.’’
Virtue and Moir also made it clear to Flood, from the first moment he met them in the summer, just what they expected in Pyeonchange.
They were going for gold – and gold only.
Flood was not on hand when the duo played a key role in Canada winning team gold skating early in the Games.
However, he was in the stands when Virtue and Moir hit the ice needing a performance for the ages to snatch gold away from France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron in the highly-anticipated ice dance competition.
Flood felt nervous tension permeating throughout the skating arena. He, too, was on pins and needles.
Then his clients/friends skated better perhaps then they could even have hoped, tallying a world-record overall score of 206.07 points and nabbing gold.
Flood beamed in the glow of the top medal.
“That was pretty special,’’ he says.
“I felt I was very much a part of a team that helped them win a gold. I felt so lucky to be there.’’
The euphoric experience was contrasted with heart-wrenching defeat experienced by Canada’s most successful cross-country skier in history, Alex Harvey, who Flood has worked on for the past four years.
Flood provided physiotherapy to nine of Canada’s 11 cross country team members that competed in South Korea. A few he only treated for one hour total. Others he treated far more frequently. Harvey was under Flood’s professional touch every second day.
So when Harvey placed fourth – a mere 6.1 seconds shy of the bronze medal-winner – in the last Olympic race of his career, Flood shared deeply in the crushing disappointment.
Flood did not speak to Harvey until the next day when he told the skier he didn’t let anybody down, he deserved a medal, and Flood was really proud of him.
“It is heartbreaking. I know how hard he worked for it,’’ adds Flood.
“We had a good talk after. There was a lot of hugs and a lot of emotion for sure.’’
Crushing, too, for Flood was being in the stands as Team Canada fell to the men’s Germany hockey team in a semi-final match, denying the collection of non-NHLers a shot at gold.
The entire Olympics – Flood’s first but he hopes not his last – was an unparalleled emotional exercise in his career as a physiotherapist.
“It was the experience of a lifetime,’’ he says.