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Jessica Gregg - Great Genes and the Olympic Dream

Jessica won her first ever World Cup gold medal in 500m short track speedskating in February 2009. Jessica comes from a strong pedigree of skaters as he mother was a two-Olympian in the sport and her father Dr. Randy Gregg was a member of the Oilers dynasty in the 1980's.

Ever since I was a little girl, I always had the dream of going to the Olympics.

I guess technically I already have been though, as I was in my mom’s tummy during the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. She was there volunteering at the speedskating oval and watching my dad, Randy Gregg, play in the men's hockey tournament.

My mom, Kathy Gregg, had retired from competitive long-track speedskating after representing Canada in two Olympics prior to Calgary — the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck and the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Not many people can say that one of their parents went to the Olympics, let alone both of them! I get reminded often that I have some very good genes for skating, and sport in general. I don’t argue with that fact, but I know that I got much more than good genes from both of them.

Growing up in a very active and energetic family, I participated in many sports, all of which I enjoyed and couldn’t get enough of. Eventually, as I got older and each sport started to become more demanding, I had to narrow my choices down. Of course with my parents having backgrounds in hockey and speedskating, those sports were among the many that my brothers, sister and I participated in. I soon started to realize that speedskating was by far my favourite sport, and knew that was the sport I wanted to be doing when I was older.

Watching the Olympics on TV as a young athlete was one of the most inspiring times for me. Knowing the hard work that each athlete puts into his or her life for that one moment of glory every four years really amazed me. Seeing the athletes on the podium, so proud of what they had accomplished and standing before the Maple Leaf, is something I've always remembered.

Even after moving to Calgary to pursue my own Olympic dream, I still get a chill as I watch athletes step up on the podium representing their country. Watching the last Winter Olympics in Turin was a very motivational time for me, and reinforced my goal of someday competing in the Olympics.

Hold on to that feeling

When I first heard the news that Vancouver was going to host the 2010 Olympics I was very excited. I started to dream about competing in Canada at my very first Olympic Games. Today, as I have progressed in my training and competition results, I see that dream becoming more and more of a reality.

Something else that motivates me is the feeling I got at my very first World Cup event. It was in Chicoutimi, Que., and the stands were packed! I had never seen a rink so full before for a short track competition.

I was having the races of my life and made it to the A final. The race began and I was in third position, with a teammate in second, and as we crossed the finish line, I couldn’t believe it. My first World Cup medal! The best memory of the race however was not crossing the line in third place, but the reaction from the crowd. Throughout the race I couldn’t even hear my coach as the cheering got louder and louder as we went around the track.

The feeling of having a home crowd cheer for you is indescribable. I had not only accomplished a huge goal for myself but I felt so proud to be Canadian. That feeling will always be with me, and I dream that I will feel it again in the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics.

The Games are getting closer and closer, but I realize I need to focus on the training I need to do to prepare for our Olympic trials, which are going to be held this coming August. It’s not only an exciting time for athletes but for all Canadians. In one year from now we'll all be entertained and amazed at the power of sport and the pride our country will feel during the Games.

Only 365 more days to go!

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