The student council leaders from Garden Valley Collegiate
attended Manitoba's Rural Forum for Young People held at the
Keystone Center in Brandon, MB on April 27, 2000. One of the
featured speakers at the forum was Silken
Laumann, a well-known Canadian athlete who challenged her
listeners to "never give up".
Silken Laumann is a woman who is admired by many. A recipient
of several Olympic medal's Laumann has not only proven herself
to be an exceptional athlete; through her personal struggles
and disappointments, she has also shown exceptional determination.
Being one of three children, young Silken found herself as
the one with nothing special about her. When her sister took
up rowing, Laumann gave it a try. Those at Don's Rowing Club
in Mississauga, Ontario watched her improve after many, many
spills into the water.
Laumann joined the Canadian Men's Olympic Rowing Team in 1990.
She describes it as having 22 tall, athletic, gorgeous older
brothers. Although this team came from coast to coast, the rowers
had a common vision. They trained ten times a week. When they
got a new coach, their workout doubled.
Laumann experienced motivation, mixed with a desire to just
quit. But, even with the exhausting schedule, she refused to
take a day off she couldn't break the team. The importance
of teamwork is important, she says, in your environment and schools.
Teams bring out the potential in everyone.
Five weeks before the Olympics, on May 16, 1992, Laumann was
hit by another boat. The tendons and muscles in one of her lower
legs were completely severed.
Reflecting on the matter, Laumann says, "everyone experiences
failure". The key, she believes, to recover quickly. If
you can bounce back faster than someone else can, you'll be one
step ahead of them.
Even champions have fears and doubts, Laumann says. Her advice
is to imagine who in your life needs encouragement. Then, encourage
everybody, every day. She says that one thing to remember is
that encouragement isn't solving problems; it's giving advice
After her accident, Laumann remained focussed on the Olympics.
Two days after getting out of the hospital, she got into a boat
and rowed! She couldn't stand or walk without pain, but she
rowed. Day by day, Laumann took many small steps and in those
five weeks between the accident to the Olympic Final, she got
ready to compete.
She recalls that she was extremely nervous, and wanted to
quit. But, she kept going, and through that race she pushed
HARD. In the end, she was a victor; she won the bronze medal.
"You don't get to choose your circumstances," says
Laumann. The key to living life is working with what you've
got and keeping life balanced. It's important to remember the
things in life that are important to you, she says. Your accomplishments
are only a small part of you. You will ALWAYS be yourself, regardless
of what you do. It's you that you need to be proud of.
Silken Laumann now rows only recreationally and concentrates
on being the best wife and mother possible. She advises others
not to "pray for an easy life" but instead, "pray
to be strong".