at the races What It Feels Like to Win Gold

What It Feels Like to Win Gold

LIMA, Peru - Sage Watson of Canada win's gold in women's 400m hurdles at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games on August 08, 2019. Photo by Vincent Ethier/COC

By: Sage Watson

My 2019 season got off to a rocky start. I was coming back from a foot injury and it was affecting my training going into racing season.
Each time I put on my spikes I would wince in pain as I tried to sprint. The bone chip in my foot was causing such discomfort that I wasn’t sure how
I was going to run, let alone hurdle a full 400m around the track. There were more days of doubt then positive days, though I still thought I would
reach my 2019 goals.

At one point in May, after running in the World Relay Championships in Japan (where Team Canada placed 4th in the 4×4), I remember calling my dad as I traveled home. He asked me how I was holding up. Right there in the airport, I had a breakdown. I wasn’t holding
up, I told him. “I don’t think I can do this,” I said. I thought my season was over and there was no way I was going to make a comeback. He told me I was going to get through this, even if I didn’t reach all my goals. He said I was going to make it through this injury. Boy, was he right.

If you told me in May that I was going to become the Pan American Games Champion in August, I would have laughed. I had no idea that I would not only recover from my injury, but be strong enough to win the 400m hurdles for Canada. It took hours of physio, rehab, treatment, training and rest, but my season slowly started to progress in the summer months. Going into
the Pan Am Games, I was in a positive mindset.

I knew I had a chance at a medal if I put everything I had into that race. I came in second place in the semifinals and knew after that race that I
was strong enough to run even faster. I talked with my family, coach and boyfriend before the race and they all told me I could do it—they had

unwavering belief in me, and their belief led to my belief. I could win this thing. One of the best moments of the Pan Am Games was walking up to the start line for my final and seeing my Team Canada teammates inthe crowd cheering my name. They believed. As I set my blocks to start the race, I felt as if I wasn’t alone. I knew my family was watching, and my coach, my teammates and all of Canada was there with me in the blocks. The gun went off and nothing was holding me back. At the final corner of the race, I saw the finish line and knew right then, with 100m to go, that I was going to win. I crossed the finish line first and threw my hands in the air. Later, I was overcome with emotion.

I couldn’t believe I had done it. I had really won. After that, I got up, hugged my teammates, shook my competitors’ hands and grabbed the Canadian flag. There was no better feeling in the world than holding up that flag. It’s something I will forever cherish and strive to do again for my family, friends, coach and country. Whoever you are, whatever you go through, never give up on your dreams.