Rio 2016 Interview with Team Canada's Kim Gaucher

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Back in 2012, Kim Gaucher (nee: Smith) was kind enough to spend a few minutes with me for an impromptu interview, which you can read here.  Gaucher is back at the Rio Olympics as Team Canada Basketball captain.  Before the games got underway, she was able to email with me for a quick interview.

How did you cope after 2012 Olympics ended as it had been a goal for so long?
It was the best two weeks ever!!! There have been a lot of experiences over my basketball career that I have built up in my head, then when you get there/achieve something, it never quite lives up to the buildup. Well London and it’s Olympics surpassed every wild fantasy and was better than could have been expected. Nothing to cope with, just an amazing life experience that I will always have with me.

Image source: Edmonton Journal
Looks like you have been on the court a lot in the last 4 years. When did you decide to aim for Rio?
After the games, my career was sort of at a crossroads. In the couple of months following the games I told myself I was done with basketball and it was time to move on. However our team and myself sort of exceeded expectations. I took one of the many opportunities presented to me and played that following year in Southern France. Turns out I could still play, I’ve always enjoyed playing and I love representing Canada. So I guess once I got a ball back in my hand after a month off I knew I was ready for another Olympic cycle. People never realise how much work it takes to get to a point like this, but once you get to a level like this you realise just how much fun it is!

Have you prepared any differently in terms of training or mental prep for Rio vs London,  now that you have experienced the Olympics once?
I’m very lucky in that I really love my job. Not just saying that cause we are down here in Rio. When I go a day without some type of basketball it just doesn’t feel right. I’m competitive, I love to work out, I love being part of team – I am very lucky.

When you get a little older, now being in my 30’s the workouts are structured a bit differently. Physically it can be a bit tougher, day after day month after month, but with age also comes wisdom and maturity. My coaches rely on my decision making and leadership now more than ever. I’ll take whatever role they give me as long as I get to compete.

Has being married changed your ability to train or play at all? Are you worried about the Zika virus?
I was with Ben for along time before we even got married, maybe 7-8 years. He knew what he was in for. It has never been easy, and long distance never works well, but we’ve always managed to make it work. I think if anything it’s easier now having the same last name so he isn’t seen as a groupie or distraction.

Yes Zika is something all the athletes are worried about. As an adult my two biggest goals in life were to become an Olympian and a mother. Maybe not at the same time, but still both. In the lead-up to Rio, all of us athletes are so focused on the present that we sometimes forget about the future. There are so many different messages out there it's hard to know what information to trust.

It has changed our plans. At one point we were hoping of conceiving just before or right after Rio, however it just does not seem smart or prudent to do at this point.  I’ve resigned with my club team in France for next season as a result and will take things as they come after that.

What tips are you giving your teammates who haven't been to the Olympics before?
As we say in Canada “ Just give’er”!! Having failed to make 2 Olympics before London, some of our younger player don’t realise how difficult it is to get here. Take it all in, it’s an unbelievable experience to have so early in life, but once that ball goes up its the same game just a bigger stage!

Have you learned any Portuguese for this trip? Are you concerned about Brazil being ready for such a big event?
I’ve been to Brazil now on 5 different occasions for basketball. An amazing country with amazing people and they LOVE and really appreciate womens' sports here. We want to put on a good show. But having said that, it’s kind of like going to another couples house for game night. You love the couple, but they are having a terrible fight just before you arrive. It’s a bit awkward. You know they’ll get through it, but they need to figure some things out before you arrive.

But these are the Olympics. They are what most athletes dream about competing in. I’ve dedicated most of my adult life to getting here and not much right now is going to stop me. If I have to wear long sleeves, not drink the water, go through a couple protests and not go swimming to compete for Canada- Well then that’s what Ive got to do!

Not sure if you met Bolt in 2012, but any other athletes you hope to see? Do you have tickets to any events?
Would have loved to meet Bolt in London but missed my chance. However when I am back in Utah training I always run into elite distance runners who are out there training. I’ve watched Mo Farah train and Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed get ready for the 10000m. Inspiring!!

I love watching the track and field along with the swimmers. And with the games in Rio, volleyball will be the hot ticket with everyone watching, so will I. I just love getting know the athletes, particularly the Canadian ones. Many of us seem to have similar backgrounds and face many of the same struggles with sport in our country.

With the games only being 2 weeks long and basketball playing games every other day, it’s tough to get out and explore. The organisers leave room for athletes to attend any event on a first come first serve basis. But unlike some of the other events where the competition has come and gone in one day, we will hopefully be playing for the entire two weeks, deep in medal contention!

What is your nutrition strategy leading up to Rio and during the games?
Whew where to begin. It’s amazing how much science there is out there. It also does not help playing in France when you’re attempting to be fit for an Olympics.

Basically I never limit myself on fruits and vegetables. I have a couple fruit smoothies a day and never have a problem getting those in. I’ve tried to not go the supplement route. More yougurt and chocolate milk seem to get the job done.

No red meat, and have tried to eat more fish than poultry lately. I’ve always eaten very clean and I think that’s why I’ve been able to stay at this level for such a long time.

Thanks so much to Gaucher for putting aside some time for me.  Tune in to watch Team Canada vs Team USA on Friday 12 August.

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