The Olympics are a big deal for athletes, perhaps the biggest deal there is.
In the media, of course, we tend to focus on the winners. And rightfully so, winning Olympic medals is arguably the ultimate measure of the pinnacle of athletic performance. The medal count is, in fact, the hard news of the event.
Outside of the cold, hard facts, though there are a thousand stories of personal triumph and success.
In local media, we are, of course, interested in local athletes. Unfortunately, winning, or not winning as the case may be, is still the news of the matter.
But we also must acknowledge what an incredible achievement it is to even make it to the Olympic Games.
And so we unreservedly salute Regan Yee of South Hazelton, or formerly thereof, for all of her stellar performances leading up to and in Tokyo.
The guts, determination, commitment and hard work it takes to rise to that world-class level, especially hailing from a remote, rural area such as northwest B.C. is almost unfathomable to most of us by itself.
That is not to denigrate the coaches and local supports along the way, it is simply a fact of life that population dictates the level of resources, facilities and competition that can be brought to bear for elite athletes.
It’s why countries such as the United States and China fare better than countries such as Canada.
It’s why to take it to the next level promising rural athletes end up having to move to larger centres.
So, it is quite a feat to even achieve that initial elite status, but then you have to climb the ladder from regional to national to international, each time encountering a steeper level of competition that you have to be up for.
And what about timing? With the Olympics being only every four years (and in this case five), there is a huge calculation on how to peak at the right time.
Yee did just that achieving a personal best and a Canadian record, albeit short-lived, at the Olympic trials in Montreal at the end of June.
In her case, there is also the event itself.
The 3000m steeplechase is one of the most grueling events in athletics and fraught with injury risk. During the course of a race, a competitor must clear a total of 28 ordinary barriers and seven water jumps.
To do that under ordinary circumstances is an achievement. To do it in competition on the Olympic stage in nine minutes and 41.14 seconds finishing seventh in her heat is a truly remarkable accomplishment.
Congratulations to Regan and all of the amazing athletes who competed in Tokyo.