Canada suffered a slow start at the 2002 Winter Olympics. But then Catriona Le May Doan stepped to the line in the 500-m speed skating final. The flag-bearer delivered a timely gold, and the Canadian team went on to win a record number of medals. Now, Le May Doan is retiring from a remarkable career-the Calgary resident has two gold Olympic medals and one bronze, 12 world championships and the world 500-m record. She intends to concentrate on public speaking and assisting the Vancouver-Whistler bid for the 2010 Olympics, and hopes to start a family with husband Bart Doan.
I was talking to my dad earlier this morning, and he said, “It’s strange: you’re 32 and retiring, and I’m in my 60s and still working.” For me, it’s sad that it’s ending. I’ll miss skating, I still love it, and 1 will really miss my teammates. But then, I look at what I want to do now and it excites me. In skating,
I’ve been able to tweak a little here and there and get results that help me be my best. In this new career, it’s going to take a lot of work to get to that point. But that’s OK because I like the work and the feeling of getting better at something.
I always wanted to be ranked No. 1, and yet when I got to that point in skating, I realized it didn’t matter, or at least not as much as I thought. The important thing was being my best. So now, if me being my best at something else doesn’t make me the best overall, I’m OK with that. It’s a new world and it’s a bit scary, but it’s the right time.
I talked to all my friends in the sport during the year. [Germany’s] Sabine Völker knew this was probably going to be it for me, and she supported that, even back when we were at Salt Lake, because she knows what the pressure’s like. It’s stressful. She won three medals in three races-that’s impressive.
Some of the girls figure that if you still
like it and you’re making money, why not keep skating? I have no doubt that I can continue to be at the top, and I don’t say that in an arrogant way. I just think it’s a fact. Trying to win another world championship would be great, and yet it’d just be more of the same. I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish, so it’s time to move on, and to help another generation reach the podium.
What excites me the most about the future? Family. Bart and I are at the point where we’re ready to have kids, and every now and then I look at my calendar and wonder, “What would be the right time?” But I know I can’t look at it like that. We’ll have to adjust to not being able to drop everything and go travelling or whatever, and that’s OK. What I’ve been doing is quite a selfish lifestyle, and there comes a time when you have to put family first. And that’s something I really want to do.
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