London 2012 Q&A: Valérie Welsh

Editors note: As part of the Canadian Sports Media Blog’s coverage of the London 2012 Olympics, I am happy to partner with Alexandre Duval to provide interviews with three of Canada’s Olympians. Alex has kindly provided these three interviews to the Canadian Sports Media Blog. One will appear each day through the Opening Ceremony. Today is the last of the three specials. The interview is with synchronized swimmer Valérie Welsh.

Valérie Welsh was born in Saint-Nicolas, Quebec, and became addicted to synchronized swimming at the age of eight. Now a 24 year-old woman, Valérie is training at Montreal’s Olympic Park under the watchful eye of Julie Sauvé, head coach of the Canadian national synchronized swimming team.

Valérie will be swimming at the Olympic Games for the first time, in London. Since seven is generally considered a lucky number, I decided to ask her seven questions just a few days before she jumps in the pool to perform the most salient routine of her career.

Alexandre Duval (AD): Valérie, you will be swimming at an Olympic event for the very first time, in London. What is your personal approach to this great moment of your life?

Valérie Welsh (VW): Participating in the Olympic Games truly is the dream of any athlete… and it has been mine since I was a kid! Right now, I’m experimenting mixed feelings: stress, thrill, pride, etc. We are training really hard and we are very confident with regards to the coming Games.

AD: Have you always known that you would partake in the Olympic Games one day? When you were young, were you training specifically to make this dream come true?

VW: I have always dreamed of going to the Olympic Games since I was a kid. The road to get there, however, has not been an easy one. Before entering the Centre of Excellence in 2008, I had never been able to get a spot on any of the national teams (13-15, Junior, Senior). I was always the next one: if they selected 12 girls, I was 13th; the year after they would pick 11 swimmers and I would come 12th… This pattern repeated itself 6 years in a row. Therefore, there was a time in my career when I was dreaming of the Olympic Games only silently, but I am glad that I still kept dreaming! It’s actually what has allowed me to get where I am today!

AD: In London, you will be performing the team routines. Canada has not won an Olympic medal in your sport since Sydney, 2000. How do you evaluate your team’s chances to mount the podium in 2012?

VW: Canada’s synchronized swimming team has been on a roll since 2008. We have mounted the podium several times on the international scene. We have nothing to lose and everything to win! The competition will be a hard-fought one between Canada, Spain, and China. Nobody wants to cede ground, including Canada!

AD: What do you really have to focus on if you wish to win a medal?

VW: We have to make sure we deliver a perfect performance. Period. Our synchronization and acrobatic lifts must be impeccable. We will have to be the best and leave no doubt about this.

AD: If you and the synchronized swimming team end up winning a medal, will you:
• Cry?
• Faint?
• Jump all over the place hysterically?
• Eat everything that has been prohibited in the past months?
• Party all night?
• Do something else?

VW: All of the above! I will certainly look for my parents in the stands in order to go jump to their neck! They have been sharing my dream since I was a kid and they certainly have made as many sacrifices as I have! They deserve a medal too!

AD: If there is one athlete you could meet while you are in London, who would it be and why?

VW: It’s really hard to say because I’m impressed by all athletes! I think each sport is so hard and it’s amazing that every single Olympic athlete just managed to become a specialist of his or her sport. I had the chance to mingle with some Canadian athletes at the last Pan American Games and many of them were really impressive. The Canadian Olympic team truly is a great group! The athletes in one sport go cheer for the athletes in other sports, and we watch the performances of our fellow Canadians on TV in the Olympic village! As to the synchronized swimming team, our lucky charms are Meaghan Benfeito, Roseline Filion, and Jennifer Abel (the divers). They always come and cheer for us when we are competing!

AD: It’s not that I want to force you to think long-term, but… Do you have any clue of what is awaiting you after the London Olympic Games?

VW: After the Games, I will become a real student! I will study full-time in veterinary medicine. I will settle down in Saint-Hyacinthe and will stay in touch with the world of synchronized swimming. I actually will be a coach for the Club Les Vestales in Saint-Hyacinthe and I will get to share my passion with many young girls.

About the author :
Alexandre Duval is a blogger for Merlin Assurance Auto. He is also currently completing his master’s degree in political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal. Alexandre also studied in Toronto, in France, as well as in the United States, where he was an NCAA Division I tennis player.

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