It took me many years to realize that I was an athlete – I felt that was some revered person of great ability, that was other people that knew how to do sports, performed them well. I didn’t get the concept of being an athlete and what that meant; physically active and strong, good at athletics was my understanding and I didn’t think that was me. I was someone who liked reading. But I was also someone who ran home a few km to get to those books rather than take the bus. I ran around the school and playground for Expo ’67 – the school planned to put in enough distance to make it across Canada. I ran in the fields and trails around another school but there was no organized outdoor team sports and volleyball, basketball were beyond my poor hand eye coordination and my interest. In college there was organized swimming but I’d taught myself that and was a lousy teacher. I participated.
It wasn’t until another Scotswoman that I worked with suggested we take up this new trend, an early bird fitness class, aerobics were becoming a thing and we went to it! I met a couple of great people, one of whom I still know now, Mark Shorter. I ran more and started entering races, we had a great little running group that would go for brunch after races and it was fun!
I began cycling only after wanting to buy a bike from a very successful rider who sold it to me on the condition that I race it. I’d avoided taking up the sport because my brother Tom Morris was an Olympian – a real athlete! I didn’t want the comparisons although he was very supportive and believed in my ability. Yikes, that first race on Armstrong hill with BC’s best women riders was an eye opener. I had no idea what I was doing. For some reason I persisted, kept going, kept being told that I was looking good even when there were no other riders around me because I was by myself well off the back. I enjoyed the bike, liked the mechanical aspect of working with it, liked the speed you could get and the community that I began to find despite it being a very much male dominated sport. I didn’t really think too much about that except when we had to race with the masters, the juniors, the Cat 5’s because there wasn’t so many of us. I’m getting off topic here, that’s another story!
Eventually, with persistence and perseverance, some coaching from my brother and brushes with some now well known bike coaches and a partner who was following the same path, I became an athlete and a cyclist, a competitive cyclist!
I have no problem calling folk athletes when they participate in sports at any level and I’m an athlete for life, that’s what’s strong with me, day 13.
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