For Kelsie Hendry, this entire summer was focused on returning to the Olympics.
The Saskatoon native and former University of Saskatchewan Huskie competed for Canada in the pole vault in Beijing in 2008 and seemed to be on track to represent Canada again in London next month.
Going into the Canadian Track and Field Trials in Calgary this weekend, Hendry was a heavy favourite. She had already cleared the Olympic A standard height of 4.50 metres several times this season, the only Canadian female to do so. She is also the Canadian record holder in the event.
Her confidence was high enough that she already registered in several European meets in the lead-up to London. All she needed was a top-three finish in Calgary.
Unfortunately, in sport, things don’t always go as planned.
“I’ve been having a great season up until yesterday. It really all came crashing down,” Hendry said on Sunday. On Saturday, she missed all three tries at the first height she attempted.
“I started at 4.20 (metres), which was lower than any meet I’ve started at all year long,” she said. With the three misses, Hendry finished the meet with no result and her chance at London was gone.
Although there was a bit of wind and it affected Hendry slightly in the runup to her attempts, she was unwilling to make any excuses.
“I take full responsibility for what happened. I made some bad decisions and missed a few technical cues,” she said.
On top of the obvious disappointment of missing the Olympics, Hendry, 30, is now faced with decisions about her future much sooner than she had hoped.
“I have three meets left, then I’ll have to do some soul searching,” said Hendry, her voice hovering on the edge of breaking.
Those three meets are in France, Switzerland and Germany. She will leave for Europe this Sunday. Even though she won’t be competing in London, her trip will probably still end there. While it was painful to consider Sunday, she said she will likely go to watch the event she was unable to qualify for.
In particular, she wants to support her training partner Tori Pena and Melanie Blouin, the young Quebecois athlete who earned the pole vaulting spot on Canada’s roster. Although she doesn’t know Blouin well, Hendry had no ill feelings toward her Sunday.
“(Blouin) is extremely talented, she’s been pretty consistent and she is definitely growing as an athlete, so it’s good that Canada is sending one of their young up-and-coming athletes,” Hendry said.
Although the season didn’t end as she wanted, Hendry was grateful for the support she felt from her community while training.
“I’ve had a lot of support from people in Saskatoon throughout my career. This year I definitely couldn’t have got through it,” she said.
On Sunday, Hendry was still a long way from being able to consider her future in the sport objectively. The first step will be coming to terms with the abrupt end to her Olympic dream.
“It’s still a little bit surreal to me. I still feel a little bit numb. I’m still coping. I still keep remembering that I’m not going,” she said.
By Sean Trembath
Read more: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/sports/Hendry+dream+return+trip+Olympics+ends/6874396/story.html#ixzz1zcSs8e2V