From Vancouver to Beijing - My Experience as a Physiotherapist in the Olympics



Date Posted : September 27, 2021


I wanted to share how my background in high performance sports informs my physiotherapy work every day in Vancouver and Delta and how my sport medicine experiences shape what I try to bring to all of my clients as a result.


It’s not hard for people “of a certain age” or athletic level to feel that they would be the wrong client for a sport physiotherapist. This is simply not true!

Given that we just had our Summer Olympics, I want to share how that background in high performance sports informs my physiotherapy work every day in Vancouver and Delta and how my sport medicine experiences shape what I try to bring to all of my clients as a result.

It goes without saying that athletes have to be relentless in their pursuit of success. No stone can be left unturned. 

In truth, it’s no different for any of us who work as support staff in elite sport. If we are to remain connected with a sport program, we have to keep ourselves at the top of our professional game.  

We must have a hard-working and optimistic attitude and a consistent practice of learning new physiotherapy skills and improving on the ones we have. We must be detail-focussed in our work and creative in looking for any inroad in an athlete’s injury or physical condition where we can offer a new idea. We can’t stop doing our part in working towards best outcomes if we are to remain as colleagues in these professional groups. When I come to the clinic in Vancouver, these habits come with me. They are simply part of my style of care now, regardless of who my patient is.

In elite sport, we usually work as part of a support team that could typically include sport medicine physicians, specialists (such as surgeons), other therapists (massage and chiropractic) and strength and conditioning professionals.   

This wonderful network of relationships motivates us to keep learning and to be collaborators. We make each other better from outside of our own professions. 

If the support team lives in the same geographical area, often we will work with each other in our regular practices, sharing patients and building on the trust gained from our athlete care experiences. Being part of a broader sports medicine community in Vancouver, Richmond, and Delta is of tremendous help to me on a very regular basis.

It goes without saying that physiotherapists are passionate about movement and its relationship to health. The opportunities I have had to see the human form at its peak have left me in awe of the potential we all have, no matter what we are living with. And the healthy habits that high-level athletes generally maintain over their lifetimes are inspirational.

Events such as the Olympics are a culmination of a lot of time preparing and in ways that aren’t just physical. Learning to win with humility, lose with grace, set goals, work towards them, and recover from setbacks are just some of the life lessons that I have seen elite sport bring to those involved.  

It has now been 13 years since I attended the Beijing Olympics as the physiotherapist with the Canadian Wrestling Team. This closing ceremony photo brings back such fond memories of those Games. We had 2 medals and I achieved my own lifetime goal of being an Olympian, only made better by the fact that I got to do it with a group of people who remain such a gift to my life.

Although I didn’t get to participate in the opening ceremony, the closing was very special. The outfit was so crazy! And the memory of the emotions I felt when the on-field barriers came down and all of us simply celebrated humanity can still make me cry. In those moments, the unifying potential of sport is truly real.

Thanks for indulging me in a trip down memory lane. And now back to my seat on the couch to cheer on the “Red and White” in the next Olympics. Go Canada!

    ...I achieved my own lifetime goal of being an Olympian, only made better by the fact that I got to do it with a group of people who remain such a gift to my life.