Meryeta O'Dine had to work through her grief before she could win Olympic bronze
24-year-old overcame PyeongChang 2018 disappointment, loss of brother
A concussion sustained days before PyeongChang 2018 kept Meryeta O'Dine from her Olympic snowboard cross debut.
Fast forward to Beijing 2022, the four-year wait to finally represent Canada at the Games was definitely well worth it. So was the extensive mental work she's done since then.
The 24-year-old from Prince George, B.C., believes that her bronze-medal performance on Wednesday wouldn't have been possible without some deep soul-searching and willingness to work on herself.
"I put in so much work over the past four years to slowly become the athlete that I knew I could be, because there was a lot going on within my professional life and in my home life that really conflicted with each other," O'Dine said.
Those home life issues included the grief of losing a close family member. Her brother Brandon passed away in 2020 due to a brain tumour.
The loss had O'Dine asking herself some hard questions: "Is this really what you want? Is this realistic? Is this possible?"
WATCH l Meryeta O'Dine claims snowboard cross bronze at Beijing 2022:
She decided the best way to answer those questions was with a psychologist, as well as some solo time.
"Just having those conversations and [figuring out] what it's going to make you the best you that you can be. Because when you're happy and you feel like yourself, you can achieve anything that you put your mind to."
Given that her mind was set on winning an Olympic medal, you could say she has a point. Now she just has to wrap her mind around her newfound success.
"So far, it's pretty surreal," O'Dine said. "I'm so excited, I'm motivated for the future, but overall I would say it's just surreal."
O'Dine wasn't considered a favourite to claim a medal in Beijing, as her professional resume had just a single World Cup podium appearance on it, from 2017 in Feldberg, Germany. She said she just took competition in Beijing one step at a time.
Her focus went from good training times to aiming to qualify in the top five. When O'Dine qualified third overall, she focused on making it to the final. Finally, when she made it to the final, it was next stop, podium.
"I came into the Games with a fairly open mind because, in this sport, anything can happen. But after the first and second training days, I started really getting that confidence within my performance."
"I kind of broke down in different steps and different stages throughout the Games... Really, in this sport, that's all you can do."
O'Dine still managed to have a bit of fun, and kept loose by doing a video call with some of of friends back home in Canada during a two-hour break before the final.
"I just FaceTimed them while I was eating lunch and they were at the bar having fun. And I was on the phone with my mom when I was in doping control."
WATCH l O'Dine reflects on her painful journey to Olympic bronze:
Canada's latest Olympic snowboard medallist is a firm believer that working on mental training is just as important as physical training.
"Many people don't think that getting super personal about things really relates to your sport performance, but I saw myself basically deteriorate over years, performance-wise, as my mental [health] was deteriorating.
"I needed to make the switch, to go 'ok, you're more than physically strong enough and fast enough to do this, you've proven that yourself.
"But you have a very large component that has been missing and it's going in the complete opposite direction that you needed to be to be the athlete that you would like to be.'"
It's safe to say O'Dine has become the athlete she knew she should be.
WATCH | O'Dine feels like 'an entirely new athlete':