Denny Morrison: Things I learned from my younger self

Denny Morrison: Things I learned from my younger self

'I remembered who I really am and what I stand for,' says 4-time Olympic speed skating medallist

By Denny Morrison for CBC Sports
May 12, 2017

Denny Morrison is a competitor. Denny Morrison is determined. Denny Morrison is persistent. Denny Morrison believes he can obtain perfection only by practising perfectly. Denny Morrison knows what it will take; what needs to be done; what steps are involved. Denny Morrison is passionate, dedicated and devoted to what he does.

Canadian speed skater Denny Morrison's letter to himself 14 years ago. Canadian speed skater Denny Morrison's letter to himself 14 years ago.

Denny Morrison feels that success feeds on past success, to build the confidence needed to generate higher and greater success in the future; success however is in the eye of the beholder. Denny Morrison thinks that next time he can be better, next time he can try harder, next time he will keep going longer, regardless of how good this time was. Denny Morrison has a plan, and Denny Morrison wants to be the best. Denny Morrison wants to be a champion.

I am Denny Morrison.

I wrote this to myself in the summer of 2003. A lot has changed for me over the past 14 years. I've had the opportunity to represent Canada in three Olympics and win four medals. I've survived a motorcycle accident and a stroke. And, I'm now getting married to my fiancée on Saturday!

As I read those words today I wonder what happened to my younger, unrelenting competitive fire. Have I lost that? I am about to marry the girl of my dreams. So beautiful, strong, kind, and perfect, if I had asked anyone only a few years earlier if I would be marrying this wonderful person, they’d tell you, I'm nuts.


As I read through that self-reflection from my past, I begin to see those traits in me today. It took effort, determination, passion, dedication and devotion to believe in myself enough to be able to do something that no one else thought possible. That competitive fire does still exist! And my focus now is on how I can be a great husband.


Trying times

Now, I look at my recent physical challenges: A broken femur, torn ACL, punctured lung, concussion, internal damage to kidneys and liver, broken elbow, spine, and a full-blown ischemic stroke, all within 12 months.

Morrison's fiancée, Josie, has been an inspiration. (Denny Morrison)  Morrison's fiancée, Josie, has been an inspiration. (Denny Morrison)

People don’t think I have what it takes to make it back. I went from half a dozen or more sponsors for the past decade, to only one that believes in me now. Perhaps because one of the founders of that startup in Calgary, InjaNation, is also a stroke survivor and understands as well as I do that anything can be achieved with the right amount of persistence and determination. Their belief in me, as well as that of my fiancée, family and friends is what’s keeping me going. When I reread these lessons from my younger self, I remembered who I really am and what I stand for.

Combined with the incredible experience and beautiful relationships I’ve gained over the past decade and a half, I will take the determined persistence and dedicated passion into the rest of my speed skating career, into PyeongChang 2018, into my marriage and the rest of my life.


Because that’s who I am. And all I needed was the simple reminder from my younger self that…

I am Denny Morrison.

(Large photos by The Associated Press and Denny Morrison)

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