I love the Olympics. Every two years, I toss that “not-to-much-television” thing out the window and camp out in front of our small screen watching athletes of all types go for gold. When I first got married we didn’t have a TV [yikes] so I frequented my fitness center, spending hours on the elliptical just so I could watch the Olympic coverage… I guess it was good for me too!
Well, tonight, the opening ceremonies in London will mark the start of the 2012 Olympic summer games. And I am stoked! In honor of athletes everywhere and the families that helped them get there, I am posting my interview with friend and Olympic skater, Rebekah Bradford.
DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images
Rebekah, where did you grow up and when did you move to Salt Lake City?
I grew up in Apple Valley, Minnesota and moved to Salt Lake City right after I graduated to pursue my dream of competing in the Olympics, which was in 2001.
What particular type of skating do you compete in?
I am a long track speed skater and competed in the 1000m in the 2010 Olympics. I have also competed in the 500m, 1000, 1500 and team pursuit internationally on World Cup events.
How did you become involved in skating? Did you always want to be an Olympian?
Skating was a family sport. My oldest brother came home with a speed skating flyer from school and my parents thought it would be a great way to keep all three of their kids active. My grandparents had all my aunts and uncle involved in the sport, so it was an easy decision for my parents since my mother had fun with it when she was a kid. I treasure that as a five year watching the 1988 Olympics I told my parents that’s what I want to be when I grow up. An Olympic speed skater. And I have been fixated at accomplishing that goal since then.
How did your family influence your skating career?
My family is awesome. I grew up with two older brothers. They taught me how to be tough while they were practicing moves they saw on WWF and WCW. And my parents have always modeled perseverance through various challenges that would come up.
In the last winter Olympics, what moment was most memorable for you?
The best part of the Games was looking up to the stands and seeing my nine family members who came out to watch me compete. They stood out because I had all my fans wear purple hats that year whenever there was a competition.
Did you attend the opening ceremonies and if so, what was it like walking in with all the other athletes?
The opening ceremonies were exciting. It was a blast getting to know other athletes from Team USA and watching them compete throughout the Olympics.
How do you balance the demands of training and competition with your marriage?
So far one of the main things is to make sure we have our own time together, at least once a week, to make sure the foundation of our marriage is sound. We’ve only been married for six weeks now, so we are still figuring that out. I consider myself blessed to have a husband who is supportive of my skating.
What are your personal goals for the next two years leading up to the next winter Olympics?
It is my hope to be able to return to international competition better than I was before my double knee surgery. I remember God telling me in May 2011 that I won’t be competing during the 2011-2012 season, but I’ll be able to return to the sport after. I couldn’t understand why until I was diagnosed with full blown arthritis in July 2011. We tried everything but surgery until October 2011 where I had a bilateral release and a portion of my kneecap removed. I am still not 100% but God has been teaching me patience and joy while I am training with my team for this upcoming season.
From your personal experience, do you have tips or thoughts you’d like to share with other parents that are attempting to encourage or involve their own kids in athletic pursuits?
I think parents have a tough line they need to be aware of. Every kid will experience a time in sport where they may not want to do it and become discouraged. It’s up to the parent to know whether or not to let their child weather that storm or to pursue some other activity. My grandfather always asked me first if I was enjoying myself before he asked how my competitions went. I think that’s key if your child is enjoying that activity more often than not.
Rebekah, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions! And good luck to all the Olympians that are competing this summer.