Whether it`s at the Royal Winter Fair or The World Rowing Championships Cristy Nurse aims high! In September 2011 she was part of Canada’s women’s eight team and brought home the silver medal from the World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia. Today she is giving everything she’s got to earn a spot on the team that will compete in the 2012 Olympics in London, England. Focused, excited and committed to standing on the podium, she modestly gives a lot of credit to her farm background for the opportunities that have opened up for her.
“THE FARM HAS PLAYED A HUGE ROLE IN HELPING ME TO COMPETE”
Twenty-five year old Cristy grew up on her parent’s dairy farm, Monteith Holsteins, in Georgetown, Ontario. “My parents exhibit both dairy cattle and Clydesdale horses, so I became involved with competing at an early age. I also began competing in hunter/jumper competitions when I was young and continued to keep a horse and compete until late in high school. Through 4-H my sister and I also acquired and began breeding and showing sheep, so we truly had a well-rounded experience in terms of animal care and competition.”
Cristy is well aware that many kids from farms don’t get to compete in a lot of sports or activities because of their responsibilities at home and then she adds, “For me, it was the exact opposite. My dad would always say ‘You can milk cows for the rest of your life if you want to, but you only get a chance to do these things once. He often stayed home and would do chores alone so my mom could take my siblings and me to our practices and games. I really could not have achieved much in sport without that kind of support from both my parents.”
FROM THE SHOW RING TO THE WORLD
Jeff and Kenda Nurse deflect praise saying, that “From the time she was a little girl, Cristy always gave 110%.” Both parents are qualified judges but they are quick to note. “Cristy started showing young but we never pushed her into it. She started showing at several small fairs, where it was fun and she was successful. She would get nervous but not frightened. We always had Cristy show her own calves at all the major open shows we went to as well.” Jeff feels strongly, “I think it is a mistake to bring in a ‘ringer’ to show a 4-H member’s calf. This gave her confidence that we believed in her ability.”
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS – ROW CANADA ROW!
Beyond their obvious family fondness for livestock, the Nurse family enjoys watching and participating in sports and have always been big fans of the Olympic Games. Cristy recalls that “Rowing was a sport we watched together and I always found it exciting to see how much the country gets behind its athletes during those big Olympic moments but I never had access to a club.” Fortunately, as Cristy proceeded toward her career goal of becoming a lawyer she was able to give rowing a try. “In 2006, I got a summer job interning at a Mississauga law firm that was reasonably close to the Don Rowing Club, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity.”
As Cristy Nurse prepares for the Olympics she shares three medal winning success secrets:
“CHASE NEW GOALS AND CHALLENGES”
After playing a year of varsity basketball at the University of Guelph, I was looking for a new sport and a new challenge. At the Don Rowing Club Cristy recalls, “I took to the sport very quickly and began to have race and physiological testing results that caught the attention of the national team coaches. By 2010 I was invited to move to the National Training Centre in London, Ontario.” This has meant raising the bar on her goals. “Right now, I am in Olympic Selection Camp, which is essentially a narrowed-down group of athletes who are still in contention for spots on the Olympic team. I won’t know until the end of May if I will be on the Olympic team, so my biggest goal right now is to be re-selected to the women’s 8. And, of course, to stand on the podium at the London games if I do so.”
“ACCEPT CRITICISM AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY”
Cristy points to her farming background as the place she first learned her work ethic. “Work ethic is engrained pretty early on. Few things can harden your resolve to improve like being left on the outside of the ring in a showmanship class or not making the cut at a major show.” Far from being discouraged by these experiences, Cristy is grateful. “My parents were always very big on sportsmanship and they definitely would not indulge us if we wanted to pout after getting beat, whether it was at a cattle show or in athletics. “ She advises those who are following their dream: “Learn to take criticism from a coach or teammates and use it to improve rather than get upset about it. This has been crucial in my development, and that’s something that a childhood of competition prepared me for.”
“COMPETE EVERY DAY and AIM HIGH”
Everything is a competition. You are constantly being watched and compared to your peers. I try to remember that – every workout is its own “race”, and I just keep trying to be the best competitor I can be. One of Cristy’s early coaches, Paul Westbury, told her “You are only limited by what you are willing to put into the sport. To which this rising medalist adds, “He taught me to never settle for small results – to believe that I could wear the maple leaf one day and always keep striving for that.”
THE FINAL WEEKS OF PREPARATION MEAN INTENSE FOCUS and COMMITMENT
Cristy’s focus at present is totally on intense training. “The summer is closing in so fast. I train 5-6 hours a day, eat and try to rest as much as possible so I can perform my next workout.” She admits that this schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for fun, in the usual sense, but says she feels fortunate that several of her close friends from undergrad, who are also the girls she grew up showing cattle with, live and work relatively close by. As her focus narrows to Olympic tunnel vision, the media focus is shifting to Cristy herself and she was included in Sportnet Magazine’s “30 Most Beautiful Athletes on the Planet” in its March 12 issue. “I hope the photo helps bring some attention to rowing leading into the summer Games, because we have a very strong team on both the men and women’s sides, who deserve the coverage.” Having said that, she immediately restates where her full focus is at the present: Training for the Olympics!
BULLVINE BOTTOM LINE
“I try to make sure every decision I make at this stage puts rowing first so that when I’m sitting in the start gate of the Olympic final: I will have absolutely no regrets” – Cristy Nurse
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