Olympic Track Cyclist Letter to Herself

09 Mar Canadian Track Cyclist’s Letter to Herself

Failure and disappointment: Canadian track cyclist’s letter to herself

Monique Sullivan refuses to wallow in self-pity or go home angry

POINT OF VIEWAug 15, 2016 11:56 AM ET CBC Sports

By Monique Sullivan, special to CBC Sports

The following is a pep talk Canadian Olympic track cyclist Monique Sullivan wrote for herself on Sunday, before the sprint tournament. She says she didn’t get the results she wanted this week but is proud of her effort, and grateful to be in Rio and for the “tremendous support” from Canadian fans.


Chris Hadfield’s dream was to walk on the moon.

In all of the things he has done in his life, he has never walked on the moon, and so technically he failed at his dream.

Instead, he went to space for six months as commander of the space station. He has reinvigorated the Canadian space program and reminded us of the wonder of exploration. Sure, maybe space exploration isn’t curing world hunger, but Chris Hadfield followed his passion and in doing so became the best version of himself he could possibly be. I know that when I heard his story I found it to be inspiring that a human like myself could accomplish what he did.

Now, I don’t mean to compare myself to Chris Hadfield, but in one small way, we are similar.

This week I failed at my goal. My goal – my dream – was to win a medal in the keirin competition at the Olympics.

I worked tirelessly for this goal and poured my heart and soul into it. In the end, I simply wasn’t good enough. I received a lot of support and worked my butt off and I am the best bike rider I have ever been. Yet, yesterday on the track, I was blown out of the water.

I am very disappointed and I feel quite like I’ve failed. It is very tempting to shut down and give up even though I have another race. (To be honest I did sort of shut down and our sport psychologist helped me through it!)

The thing is though, I do not want to go home bitter.

I might feel like a failure in this moment but I am a two-time Olympian and an engineer. I have worked very hard, gotten very lucky, and sulking in a pool of self pity in this moment would be a slap in the face for all those who never got to come to the Games.

So I will race.

I will race in gratitude for being here. For being one of the few people in the world who gets to do something they love as their job.

If nothing else, I will get up after defeat and I will try again because that’s what I told 150 students all year that that’s just what you do.

When I go home next week I want to be able to tell my students to dream so big that if they fail they will still land among the stars. That it is OK, in fact necessary, to have a dream so big that the odds are against you. I want them to know that even if they do not achieve their dreams, if they have done their very best, there is value in that, even if you can’t hold it in your hands.

“We cannot cure the world of sorrows but we can choose to live in joy.” – Joseph Campbell

I never really understood that quote but this week I am realizing that choosing to live in joy is hard. It is not a cop out. When we choose to live in joy we enable others to do the same and we can bring joy into the world. What greater gift could there be?

Thank you for reading and for being part of this journey! I really am so very genuinely grateful.

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