On your mark, get set, LIFE!
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. Canada’s supreme hurdler. She was a surprise bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. For the record, I called it, on Radio-Canada! The day before her race, on a steamy evening in August in Beijing, I said “don’t count out Priscilla for a medal!!” The look on her face when the results were posted on the jumbo screen at the Olympic stadium was sheer joy, absolute bliss, it was crystal clear Priscilla had just realized a dream.
Catching up with the Olympic medalist some 3 years later in Toronto at York University, the smile on her face is just a warm and contagious. This time, another dream is being realized, that of motherhood. Priscilla gave birth to a healthy 8 lbs, 1 ounce baby girl named Nataliya Ava on September 16. Happy to report, mom and baby are doing fine!
When I met with Priscilla she was 8 months pregnant. That didn’t stop her from heading out to the track everyday to workout. OK, power squats and sprinting over hurdles, not on the schedule during the late stages of her pregnancy but make no mistake about it, Priscilla still had the air of the world class athlete Canada knows and loves. Talking to Priscilla in August she knew she had less than a year to prep for the 2012 London Olympics but true to her stoic, competitive form she wasn’t going to allow that type of pressure to affect her plans of making the Canadian team and heading to London for another shot at yet another Olympic medal. Priscilla is completely determined to get back to racing and winning form in time for the Games.
The pregnancy, for Priscilla and her husband Bronsen, was a blessing. After undergoing surgery to remove a cyst on one of her ovaries in 2007 Priscilla thought she may experience difficulties conceiving, but the 5’4″ powerhouse beat the odds and is now a new mom. The 2010 world number one ranked hurdler knows the road back won’t be easy but watching her slow, yet deliberate cadence during a run and the thoroughness of her extended stretching routines, is a great indicator Priscilla is bound and determined to put in the work, deal with the challenges that come with being a world class athlete and mom and make her 2012 Olympic dreams come true. Speaking on my own experience as an amateur athlete who became a mom just over a year before the 1996 Olympics which I competed in, I can say that Priscilla’s athletic background is about to kick in and help her out big time! That’s the beauty of being a successful amateur athlete, hard work, wins and even losses, are all part of the process to becoming the best you can be.
What makes Priscilla so fascinating is her incredible intensity (you have to watch Priscilla just before the start of a race, fully immersed in the moment, complete focus) and her dazzling smile. The intensity says she’ll take on any challenge, set goals and see them through to the end. That wonderful smile says she’s in love with life and all of it’s possibilities.
Congratulations Priscilla! Go get ’em!