I know better than to feel as though I let anyone down, and I know none of my supporters would ever say I let them down. But it is difficult to not feel that way. In a perfect world, the stars would have aligned for me on Tuesday evening and I would have walked away with a medal. I knew that was a long shot. Despite my near last place ranking going into the competition, I thought that making the finals (top 8) was very possible. I so badly wanted to achieve this just for the sake of having an additional 3 jumps (for a total of 6). Not for myself, but for all my supporters. I know how thrilling it is to watch someone you know compete and I wanted to give everyone that. I wanted everyone to feel excited and proud of our community for helping me make it this far. I wanted to give them someone to root for.
I wish my night would have been like something out of a Disney sports movie where the underdog puts all the pieces together and achieves the impossible. I wish I could have done that for my family, my community, my country. They deserve it, and I know I deserve it too.
I know I tried my damn hardest. After tying my personal best distance of 13.08m on my first attempt I knew I simply had to go for it. I knew that it would take 13.50m+ to get into the finals and that to achieve that I would have to take a risk. My risk was starting a "clap" while knowing full well the last thing I needed was more adrenaline - as this alters my approach run and thus makes me more likely to fault on the board. I decided to go for it. I called on the crowd for some help, and it was incredible. A thunderous sound echoed throughout the stadium. Hundreds of people clapped in unison and stomped their feet against the stadium. Everyone willed me to more distance. Despite their amazing efforts, I just couldn't find myself on the board. I faulted my next two jumps.
I have no regrets. I went for it. I dared greatly. I didn't make it to the world stage to play it safe. Sometimes in life you make the decision to take a risk and sometimes that risk doesn't have a pay out. That's the way it goes. But I know that at the end of the day, the distance I jumped and the place that I came won't matter.
I had the absolute time of my life. I made sure to take in each and every moment of the experience. It was thrilling and emotional and inspiring and incredibly, incredibly nerve wrecking. All day long I battled nerves that made it feel like I had rocks in my stomach. I force fed myself. All day long I swatted off negative thoughts of what could go wrong, determined not to let such thoughts infiltrate and poison my mind. I got to a point in my warmup when I wondered if I could really go one for one more minute feeling as nervous as I did. "I need this to be over ASAP." I felt sick. Seeing my competitors around me didn't help - their legs seemed to come up to my shoulders. Go away, go away - I continued to fight off the negative thoughts.
The second I walked into the stadium and heard the first unknown person yell "Go Canada!" and smile at me, I was at peace. Everything finally felt okay again. I remembered that I was home and that here, everyone was Team Ehrborne.
Kindergarten teachers, childhood friends, librarians, parents coworkers, family and everyone in between came together to support me on the world stage. Back at home, my small but mighty community gathered and cheered me on as they watched on a big screen. I felt all the support. It's reassuring knowing how many people believe in you. It's a nice crutch to lean on for those fleeting moments when you're not so sure you believe in yourself.
Competing at the 2015 Pan Am Games was truly the best experience of my life. It really was a dream come true. It has made me even more determined to continue forwards with my athletic career and have more opportunities to represent Canada and Espanola on the world stage. This exprience really solidified to me what being an athlete is all about. It's not so much about what I perform, but how I perform. How I carry myself, the example that I set for any young kids who might be watching.
For a moment, Canadians gave a damn about triple jump. My teammate and I, who finished near the bottom, got more cheers and encouragement than the current world leader got on her incredible 15m jump. Nobody cared what we came or how far we jumped - they just wanted to see us trying our hardest for our country. Being approached by children asking for autographs and pictures afterwards was incredible. Young girls watched and thought "if she can do it, I can do it!". They thought that maybe triple jump is something that they would like to try. They thought maybe they can make their dreams come true, too. That's got to be the biggest reward of all.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everyone who supported me in my Pan Am journey. I really couldn't have done this alone. I'm so grateful for my coaches, family, and community for making my dreams come true.
I'm looking forward to taking a few weeks away from the sport (TV show binge watching, pizza, sleeping, etc), and then it's back it in the pursuit of the next goal - the Olympics. One centimere at a time.