Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 7 March 2010





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Rochette golden

in winning bronze for her mother:

Joannie Rochette’s bottom lip quivered and the tears finally came as she bowed her neck to be adorned with a bronze medal that felt more like gold. A week of incomprehension and bewilderment, of professional fulfilment amid personal emptiness, culminated on the most cherished steps of the Pacific Coliseum as the girl who became Canada’s favourite daughter realized a dream in the midst of a nightmare.

Few glances and gestures to the heavens in a sporting arena have meant as much as this one, as Rochette reached upwards to salute her mother Therese, who died of a heart attack in the early hours of Sunday morning. Joannie Rochette honoured her mother with her grace and class and incredible fortitude – all attributes Therese tried to instil in her daughter.

“My mother was my biggest fan, my best friend. “She wasn’t confident for herself but she wanted the best for me. She would cheer me up when I was sad. She would put me down a bit when I got too proud. “Most of all I wanted to make her proud.”

Rochette had little option but to lay herself bare on the Vancouver ice and hope against hope that muscle memory and perhaps a smattering of help from above would pull her through. And it did. There were two minor errors but no falls during Thursday’s free skate, and the display was enough to secure a medal she didn’t need in order for her Games to be considered a triumph.

“I am happy to be on the podium,” Rochette said. “That was my goal coming here and a lifetime project with my mom – and we achieved that. “I don’t know how I could skate, my legs were shaking.

I don’t know how I did it, my mind was not here. But I am glad I did and 10 years from now when the pain has gone a bit I would wish I skated here and I know that’s what my mom would want me to do. “I feel proud and the result didn’t matter.” There may be no truer words spoken during these Winter Olympics. In a circumstance when mere participation would have been enough.

Tears trickled down Rochette’s face and onto the ice, just like they spilled from countless faces in the Pacific Coliseum crowd, where the 24-year-old’s father Normand sat feeling a mixture of pride and loss. Every jump was met with a collective intake of breath from 11,000 fans, every spin followed by a sea of eyes and hearts. The method of coping used by Rochette, utilizing an inner steel that bordered on defiance, just made the public want to embrace her even more.

Joannie Rochette is a quiet girl from a tiny town in Quebec, where she will return to reflect on the rollercoaster of emotion she has survived. Yet she has left a mark on Vancouver and on everyone who witnessed her personal struggle. She provided these Games one of its most iconic moments.




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