Local Athletes Heading to the World University Games!

Two young, female, student athletes from Port Elgin will be competing for Canada in the World University games held in Almaty, Kazakstan over 11 days from January 29th to February 8th 2017. Approximately 2,500 student athletes between the ages of 17 and 28 from more than 50 National University Sports Federations around the world will be attending these games. For Kelly Gribbons age 21 and Kyla Vanderzwet 27, this is an amazing opportunity, a huge accomplishment and a very big deal! These games are held every two years in various cities around the world and are 2nd in size only to the Olympics. Kelly, a 4th year engineering student at the University of Guelph, has been named to the Canadian Women’s Ice Hockey team and Kyla, a first year medical student at the University of Western Ontario has been selected for the Women’s Nordic Ski team. Canada will be sending 93 athletes and 27 staff members including coaches and medical staff to these games to compete in 8 of the 11 sports which will be represented there. The athletes are issued Team Canada uniforms, will participate in opening and closing ceremonies and will be housed and fed in a new athlete’s village constructed in Almaty for these games. I know competing at an international level, at an event so close to the Olympic experience is a dream come true for Kyla and I am very sure it is for Kelly as well. But along with the dreaming comes a great deal of hard work.

The motto of the FISU (International University Sports Federation) is “Excellence In Mind and Body”. Both of these young women must balance training for their sport sometimes up to 18 hours a week, depending on the time of year, with keeping up with lectures, assignments, labs and tests. You see to be named to these teams they must have met qualifications based on competition results and be a full time student. Add to that the mountains of sweaty workout laundry that needs to be done, the shopping for, preparation and consuming of healthy nutritious fuel, as well as the quality rest for these athletes and there is little time for much else. I hear parties are few and Netflix is a great way to wind down if needed. Although just writing about this makes me tired!

Here’s one simple exercise to try that trains the legs that these gals both need for their sport. Sit against a wall with your back flat against it and your feet directly under your knees. Be sure that both the knees and hips are bent at 90 degrees. Hold that for at least one minute or as long as you can. When you feel the burn, hold it 20 -30 seconds longer. Both girls must endure a certain amount of pain to get the result they desire in competition. The mind needs to be trained to deal with this as well as the body. There is so much that goes into their training that only they know what it is. Success isn’t just about a place on the podium, although that must feel pretty darn awesome. Success can be a personal best, time wise or goal wise. It can be making it across the finish line with all your equipment intact, avoiding being tripped by an opposing stick on the ice or coming across the line with a PB or skating your best game ever.

Both Kelly and Kyla (who I am sure you have guessed is my daughter) have worked and worked-out at Fitness Corner. I have been glad to be able to provide a local venue for some of their training and I wish them great personal success at World University games 2017!! Have a great experience and lots of fun, girls! You deserve it! Go Canada go!!