How Self-Belief & Unconditional Support Led This Mom To The Olympics

 

How Self-Belief & Unconditional Support Led This Mom To The Olympics

- Kia Schollar

The overwhelming message I was left with after chatting with Genevieve Orton, 2016 Olympian of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Believe. No matter what.

Chatting with Genny is inspiring. She is positive, upbeat, and happiness seemed to permeate through every word of our conversation.

Her and her superhero husband Jon, were enjoying a well-deserved afternoon together after what can only be described as an insane quadrennial - 2013, while considered a “down year” to some was when they welcomed their daughter, Anikka Lion, into the world.

With an unwavering belief in her abilities, they started on a path to the 2016, Rio Olympic Games. In 2012 Genny’s fastest time in the single kayak (K-1) over 500 meters was 1:54. In one of her first time controls, post-baby, she covered that distance in 2:10 – this is where she admits she experienced a dose of reality on the true toll pregnancy and labour, as well as parenting a newborn, takes on one’s body.

Phew, she’s human after all!

But in 2016 Genny had improved her personal best to 1:52 and earned her spot on the Canadian Olympic Team in the K-2 500-meter event.

That is Genny.

She has this ability to believe, and if you tell her she cannot – be prepared because she is going to achieve what she set out to do, and then some.

Always, always, always, believe in yourself!

As our conversation evolved, I wanted to know how motherhood changed Genny, the athlete. She noted becoming a mom 100% changed her mental game when it came to training and racing.

Having an opportunity to switch the order of importance, and having paddling take a back seat for the first time in many years was freeing and at the same time wholly motivating.

Every camp, every practice, every race was time away from her husband and daughter and she wanted to ensure it was going to be worth it. As a bonus, parenting seems to have drastically improved her time management skills.

Every camp, every practice, every race was time away from her husband and daughter and she wanted to ensure it was going to be worth it. As a bonus, parenting seems to have drastically improved her time management skills.

Motherhood also seemed to change her role on the team. Suddenly, she tells me jokingly, the younger athletes on the team would come to her for advice about their weird rashes or other “mom” topics.

Becoming a mom certainly changed things in Genny’s life but it also affected her training partners. She acknowledged that at times it had to be frustrating to her partners when they wanted to be focusing on race preparation, but Genny wasn’t available because she was parenting. However, she commended her partners over the last few years because they were patient and understanding. She also found support from her coaches and training group as they were willing to change practice times.

Her coaches were supportive and patient as she treaded through unchartered waters. In classic Genny Orton fashion, she charged in head first and found a way to make it work.

Support.

The word that’s likely coming to mind?

You’re right, none of this would’ve been possible without an unbelievable amount of support.

When I asked Genny what she wanted to make sure people could take away from our conversation, she said her support system.

She praised her wildly supportive family. Her husband Jon, did not question what they were doing. He stepped up, single parented when he had to, and was also available for the million-dollar pep talks when Genny needed. They’re also lucky to live near family, and that family made themselves available whenever needed.

So, thank you to the support team that helped this positive, driven woman achieve her dream of competing at the Olympic games.

Believe in yourself. Surround yourself with the right people. And chase your dreams!