Play as you are: Olympians set positive goals for LGBTQ in Canadian sport


Originally appeared at Olympic.ca The news: On Tuesday the Canadian Olympic Committee announced plans to foster LGBTQ inclusivity in national sport. The #OneTeam Athlete Ambassador program will hit schools to speak about mental fitness and equality, supported by a first-ever school resource Read more

Olympic.ca: The Sochi plan and the hockey team that won with it


Originally posted at Olympic.ca We all sort of chuckled when Canada’s men were playing ball hockey in the summer. It was strange yet familiar, there was something about insurance, and it looked fun. But when Mike Babcock had the floor, he Read more

Olympic.ca: Contrasting Cowboys: The differences between Canada’s medal-chasing alpine men


If cowboys in the wild west come in all varieties, then maybe it makes sense the Canadian ski racing buckaroos are all so different. A silver medallist at 2013’s test event in Sochi, Ben Thomsen is a ‘scrappy skier’ according toJan Hudec, Read more

Sochi 2014: Favourite goals of three Olympic hockey gold medallists

Posted on by Callum Ng in WRITING | Leave a comment

Before their gold medal win in Sochi, I asked three of Canada’s hockey legends their favourite Olympic goals. The answers are interesting and Jayna Hefford’s is even a little prophetic.

Play as you are: Olympians set positive goals for LGBTQ in Canadian sport

Posted on by Callum Ng in Olympic, WRITING | Leave a comment

Originally appeared at Olympic.ca

The news: On Tuesday the Canadian Olympic Committee announced plans to foster LGBTQ inclusivity in national sport. The #OneTeam Athlete Ambassador program will hit schools to speak about mental fitness and equality, supported by a first-ever school resource on LGBTQ issues. Egale Canada, the foremost national charity promoting LGBTQ human rights, is on board to guide all programs and resources. Plus, a partnership with You Can Play rounds out a great top line. In good form, the COC is also taking care of its own house. The Committee added language to its by-laws and is training staff to create a highly-inclusive corporate culture.

If you think today’s new partnerships, enhanced resource, and #OneTeam program is a positive step for LGBTQ equality in Canadian sport, you’re not wrong.

Yet it’s all a silver lining and here’s why: although athletes in Olympic and high-profile sport are coming out publicly in greater frequency, their stories tell us the path to liberation was prickly, longer than it should have been, and had dramatic affect on their performance.

Kris Burley is now a project manager but he was once an Olympic gymnast who spent the entirety of his 10 years on the national team in the closet. “I wasn’t out as an athlete, I was in a relatively hostile environment,” recalls Burley, who once had his nose broken so badly by a teammate he had to be hospitalized.

Burley, Kris

Now 15 years after retirement, Burley believes the sport community is “well behind other areas” when it comes to LGBTQ acceptance.

I think there is a tremendous amount of work that has to be done to enable all athletes to achieve their absolute best – Kris Burley, Olympian

Russian laws restricting gay rights were brought into focus because of Sochi 2014. In October 2013, the United States Olympic Committee extended their non-discrimination by-law to include sexual orientation. In mid-November of this year, the IOC included the same idea among 40 recommendations to be voted on by all members in early December.

Openly gay speed skater Anastasia Bucsis supported the movement at her second Olympics while in Sochi. “It just felt morally correct for me,” she says. “I felt as though I was standing up for what was right. I knew that going there and not lending my name to this cause I would regret it.”

She doesn’t want to be known as the ‘gay athlete’ but she is helping because of a personal promise she made during the deep cold of a Calgary winter in 2012 – back before anyone knew. “It was hard. I was so anxious. I was so lonely and confused it definitely affected my life on and off the ice and it affected my results,” Bucsis points out.

She isn’t alone when it comes to sport performance being gravely impacted, but at least she made it to the Olympics. Hindered by the stress of hiding himself, 2011 Pan Am Games silver medallist kayaker Connor Taras missed the 2012 Olympic team by just six-tenths of a second (0.6).

“I was so miserable. I really had to sit down and figure things out,” reflects Taras on the time after missing the team. “One of the biggest things was I had to fix my personal issues because I was wasting way too much energy on things that weren’t related to sport, being in the closet.”

In the year after coming out Taras improved on his eight-year-old personal bests and finished on the podium twice at nationals. The 25-year-old is looking ahead to the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and Rio 2016, more himself than the last time he took a shot at the Olympic Games.

taras_inpost

It seems when an athlete comes out they do it for themselves, but they hide because of us. Kris had hostile teammates, Anastasia a “Christian, conservative” upbringing, and Connor the male kayaker image.

So they wrestle with their sexual identity, what it means, and how to express it. Something that is only a fraction of what makes up an athlete is magnified inside locker rooms and on the field of play, by those LGBTQ or not, because sport is still behind in realizing the magnifying glass is two-way. We all need to ‘figure things out’ like Connor did.

“It’s an issue until it’s a non-issue,” says Bucsis. “This isn’t just a gay issue, everyone goes through those struggles of accepting themselves. It doesn’t matter your orientation, we’re all in this together.”

Olympic.ca: The Sochi plan and the hockey team that won with it

Posted on by Callum Ng in Hockey, Olympic, WRITING | Leave a comment

Originally posted at Olympic.ca

We all sort of chuckled when Canada’s men were playing ball hockey in the summer.

It was strange yet familiar, there was something about insurance, and it looked fun. But when Mike Babcock had the floor, he was dead serious. They were working.

That work showed up in Sochi. The red machine got rolling. Canada won this tournament by allowing only three goals, not by scoring buckets. When Crosby flew in alone on Lundqvist tonight, it was novel. Canada’s many chances were formed by living in the offensive zone and rarely in transition.

APTOPIX Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men

“Great defence means you play defence fast and you have the puck all the time so you’re always on offence,” clarifies Babcock, “We were a great offensive team.” He is emphatic.

Continued at Olympic.ca

Olympic.ca: Contrasting Cowboys: The differences between Canada’s medal-chasing alpine men

Posted on by Callum Ng in Olympic, WRITING | Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 12.36.58 AM

If cowboys in the wild west come in all varieties, then maybe it makes sense the Canadian ski racing buckaroos are all so different.

A silver medallist at 2013’s test event in Sochi, Ben Thomsen is a ‘scrappy skier’ according toJan Hudec, who along with Manny Osborne-Paradis are both unapologetic race horses. Using training runs to figure out the course. Erik Guay subscribes to the contrary, “I believe that it’s good to train like you race,” he says, “I like to approach every training run like it’s a race .”

On Tuesday in Sochi the Canadian Cowboys are shaking off a mini-sticks loss to the women’s hockey team, at the athletes’ village the night before. The guys are loose, they claim to have let the girls win. No confirmation yet from the opposing dressing room.

Continued at Olympic.ca

Sochi 2014: At the Olympic Winter Games and ready for sport

Posted on by Callum Ng in Olympic, Uncategorized, WRITING | 3 Comments

Sochi Olympics

Floating on a plane to Sochi, by way of Frankfurt and well, since it can’t be that easy, Moscow too. 23 hours of travel began with a delightfully unhelpful woman at check-in. And the soupy stew from the fancy iPad-lined bar near the gate was worse than my awful cooking. And it’s making my stomach turn as we bobble through the air on a decently uncomfortable flight.

And yet I live for this.

I’ve been grinning ever since I caught my breath in the cab to the airport. We left just on time, with sacs full of cameras and microphones, lights and computers. I brought some clothes too, but not many, I needed room for a GoPro.

I’ve been asked about my thoughts on covering an Olympic Winter Games, usually rhetorically. Frankly, I don’t have anything useful to respond with. Other than to mirror the positivity of the inquirer and be thankful for their support. Which I am…appreciative that people care about what I do, and thankful I have this opportunity.

But I won’t pretend the Olympic Games aren’t complicated. Sochi will cost more than all of Apple’s projected revenues this quarter. The host country has drawn the attention of international media, for plenty of non-sport reasons. The host city is always mispronounced.  It’s SO-CHEE. (I’m 99% sure). And people wonder: is the place safe?

I think some of these anxieties, whether mentioned above or not, are just part of the Olympic microscope. Every Games has its set. And we fret and fret. But plenty of folk want it to go smoothly. Of course there are different motivations for why.

And maybe a close look at some not so perfect places is a good thing. Perhaps we can be bold enough to think it will help. I just also hope that the reason we’re here shines brightest. To watch athletes perform. And although they have different flags on their backs, for a moment in time we can fixate on the performance. And forget everything else.

Who knows, maybe that idea gets lost in the spectacle. But its possible sport itself will win, and as long as it’s in the running I’ll spend countless hours researching, writing, tweeting, producing, shooting, hosting, editing, whatever -ing it takes to show just a little bit of what happens when sport does, and nothing else.

Follow my coverage at Olympic.ca including live coverage, stories and video.

Photo: CP Images

OLYMPIC.CA: #WeAreWinter films are a bold take on our most defining season

Posted on by Callum Ng in Olympic, Uncategorized, WRITING | Leave a comment

We all know winter.

She spouts wisps of her essence through cracks in autumn’s resolve, before rising at once, to invade the damp decay.

When winter arrives, it’s here to stay. And we settle in, not just to survive but to thrive in spite. And I’d dare say we do. Some even relish the season. Who hasn’t taken a slicing blast of wind that hurts like a hard slap, licked your lips and through a half-smile thought, “Is that all you got?”

CONTINUED AT OLYMPIC.CA

 

Sochi 2014: Canadian athletes on becoming Olympians

Posted on by Callum Ng in WRITING | Leave a comment

On the road to Sochi, I’ve been asking athletes what it took to become an Olympian, and what it means to finally get there.

Their answers are all different. And seriously full of heart and soul.

Olympic.ca: Hamilton Ticat star chasing Grey Cup & Olympic glory

Posted on by Callum Ng in Olympic, Uncategorized, WRITING | Leave a comment

samgiguere

When the 101st Grey Cup begins this Sunday in Regina, it’ll feature one man with very special extra experience.

Not long ago Hamilton Ticats wide receiver Sam Giguère was at a tough place in his football career. It was the end of 2011 and the New York Giants had just sent him home, officially ending his fourth attempt to make the NFL. Giguère was also injured, he tore his groin while with the Giants.

Continued at Olympic.ca

Olympic.ca: How to face ‘change’ like an Olympian

Posted on by Callum Ng in Olympic, Uncategorized, WRITING | Leave a comment

By: Callum Ng, originally appeared at Olympic.ca

There isn’t one particular trait that leads someone to become an Olympian.

The athletic marvels at each Winter or Summer Olympic Games result from the collection of many human abilities, of the body and the mind. A lot of effort is put toward explaining what happens at an Olympic Games. But well before the Opening Ceremony, there is the slow forging of the spirit we see manifested at the Games.

Every athlete goes through a unique combination of experiences on the way to the biggest stage. What does it take? Who does it create? These are compelling questions to which Canada’s best athletes themselves might well have some answers found in their own distinct stories.

CONTINUED AT OLYMPIC.CA

Olympic.ca: How to be great in 365 days: Tennis anyone?

Posted on by Callum Ng in Olympic, Uncategorized, WRITING | Leave a comment

 

In the world of elite sport, a year can change everything.

Athletes go from Olympic champions to World Cup disappointments. Teams routinely sink from trophy hoisters to playoff no-shows. The volume of practice, training and competition spanning 12 months in many sports yields undeniable collapses but sometimes, startling ascension.

Over the past 365 days Tennis Canada‘s athletes have risen to a new place in the world. Highlighted by the Davis Cup, an event that has had a serious impact.

CONTINUED AT OLYMPIC.CA

1 2 3 4 5 6 7   Next »