3 OPP Athletes to Compete in Tokyo Olympics

Three Okanagan Peak Performance Inc athletes will compete next month at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Kierra Smith and Taylor Ruck will compete in swimming with Malindi Elmore joining them for the marathon in track and field.

Tokyo bound Canadian marathon record holder Malindi Elmore.
Kierra Smith (2nd from left) and Taylor Ruck (right) heading to Tokyo for swimming.

And while their stories are all a little different as are their sports and events, there are a few things they share in common.

1 – They chose well in university

Kierra studied communications. Malindi did a double major in French and International Relations. Taylor was undeclared in her first year at Stanford (where Malindi was as well btw).

But it wasn’t the choice of major that I’m referring to but where they put their time and attention. In university there are three things you can do including academics, athletics and partying. And you can do two of these things really well. These three women chose well and worked hard in the classroom, the track and the pool.

Take home message: There are a lot of options, and distractions, in life. Success comes from putting in the work and turning down opportunities and fun times occasionally.

2 – When it’s time to be all-in, they’re all -in

At the top levels of any sport, everyone is talented. What distinguishes the good from the great is the commitment to the process, day in and day out. They get the sleep they need. They eat the foods to fuel training and enhance recovery. They take care of their bodies and make decisions which move them closer to their goals.

I remember Kierra sharing a story after the end of a season at Minnesota. She finished last at the NCAA championships. This wasn’t what she wanted or was happy with. And so she made the decision to go all-in for the following season. She revamped her training. She increased her loads in the weight room. She changed her mindset to one a champion.

And the following year she won at the NCAA meet.

When I asked her what made the biggest difference from being last to first she said she put a top priority on her sleep.

Take home message: If you haven’t optimized your performance or potential, what is holding you back? Where are you leaving the most results untapped. Focus on this.

3 – They balance life well

Malindi is married with kids and is the head coach of a university cross country team. Kierra works for Can Fund 150, Head-to-Head and Fitter Faster swim camps. Taylor balances studies as a full time student at Stanford.

But all of them find time to enjoy life as well whether this be getting away camping, up to Big White for skiing, going for bike rides or time for a coffee and a bagel after training.

An elite athlete needs to be focussed. And they need to make the right decisions and say no to a number of opportunities from time to time. But they don’t try to be 100%:0%. In other words they don’t try to be perfect all the time with no opportunity to let off steam and have some fun. They know their bodies well and what their passions are so when time and opportunity present for some fun they make the most of it.

Take home message: Make healthy decisions that you can sustain for ever. Build in fun times to celebrate hard work and results.

4 – They are great with developing athletes

When you’re the best in your country at something it can bring some notoriety and fame. You might appear on the cover of magazines. Local media seek you out for an article or TV segment. And for an individual that isn’t grounded and comfortable with this attention it could go to their head and be expressed negatively.

Not so with these three women.

Malindi remembers all the young athletes at OPP, whether in track or other, and asks how training and school are going. She asks about their plans going forward. Kierra and Taylor participate in the events we host for local swimmers, getting to know these young athletes and taking selfies with them.

Take home message: Maybe you don’t a medal to wear around the house and get recognized in public for your athletic efforts. That doesn’t mean someone isn’t watching you. And perhaps you are inspiring.

5 – They are coachable

The physical isn’t what allows these women to succeed, it’s the mental. All elite athletes are freaks of nature in some way.

But how do they handle adversity? How they respond to critique and feedback?

All of these athletes wants to get better and want to know how. They want feedback, correction, coaching and above all honesty.

They ask questions, without questioning the process. They listen to what is asked of them, ask clarifying questions and then execute.

Take home message: It’s OK be a skeptic. It’s alright to ask questions. But once you’ve decided on a path, trust in it and give your best effort.

Taylor, Kierra an Malindi you’ll have a big OPP family cheering you on from Kelowna when you’re in Tokyo. Based on everything above you’ve already achieved the ultimate. Now go out there, feed off this virtual support and show them what you do.

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