The second in our This Girl Can series (read our previous blog with ISWAI brand ambassador Leah HERE). Canadian Courtney, 20, is a sporting juggernaut - competing in horse-riding from a young age, she also rows for Durham University and runs in her spare time! If this doesn't inspire you then nothing will! (We think she's a true #ISWAIGIRL)
How did you first get into sport?
Like many young girls, horses were a great passion of mine and horse-back riding became the focus of my life around the age of 9. I was blessed in the respect that I transferred my days spent at summer riding camp into weekly lessons, where I discovered my natural talent in riding. I quickly entered competitive show jumping and continued this for ten years. During this time, I also ran track at school but it held little importance next to riding.
How did it become such a big part of your life?
For those who commit to horse-back riding, it becomes more than a sport, but a lifestyle you adopt. Personally, it became an outlet for my reserved and energetic personality, enabling me to focus on something that required discipline, care, compassion, strength and patience-- all things that I would have developed much more slowly or not at all without riding. The beauty of sport, and for most things in life for that matter, is that the more you put in, the more you get out. I spent most of my time at the barn, where I developed as a person and as a talented rider, confronting new challenges everyday. My parents saw what passion and dedication in a child looks like, compared against my sisters difficult, drama-filled experience in high school (with no sport to dedicate herself to), so I believe that they very purposefully let me become consumed with what I was so passionate about. When I my time at the barn came to an end because of bad coach and rider relations, I had to fill the large void in my life with a new activity, at which point I let the skills I had unconsciously developed shine through. Since then, alongside running and training in the gym for general fitness, I joined the rowing team, the triathlon club and cross country team.
Why do you think more girls should get into sport?
I truly believe that sport, at ANY level is crucial for girls. Because in this day and age, the media has construed how we perceive ourselves and how we should be, women and men alike, I believe that physical activity lets us express ourselves, and prove to ourselves our own strength and self worth that we have been taught to doubt and be ashamed of. Alongside the psychological benefits of sport, the people you meet and the skills you develop from that are priceless-- sports of all types have an amazing ability to bring together like minded people, who may not have met for any other reasons.
What’s the biggest sporting goal that you have achieved?
This is a difficult question , because I believe there are many types of things we can identify as sporting goals and achievements. For myself, I am proud of my results in competition, and the strength and power that I have developed over the years, seeking to be the best athlete I can be. But these goals are only reached because of the many stepping stones and small efforts that have to be made everyday-- getting up for a 6am swim or arriving at the barn for 4am-- going for the run when you really would rather not-- pushing through when you are scared beyond belief and sometimes, leaving the ring or the stadium accepting that you failed or messed up, but understanding that this is imperative to become a better sports woman. The small things that seemed so insignificant at the time, but make up the big picture, are my sporting achievements.
What’s your favourite part about participating in a sport?
I could write an entire essay to try and communicate my favourite part about participating in sport, but instead, I will highlight two things: the interaction with the people you train or compete with (friends and competitors alike) and especially the moment when your passion overrules the cold, the pain, the ache and the fatigue and you keep pushing through-- the moment where you realize that everything hurts and you let go of what your feeling and trust yourself to continue because that is what you have worked so hard everyday to achieve, why you train day in and day out.
Who is your female sporting icon?
I am a massive fan of Jessica Ennis, especially after the World Athletics in Beijing this August, where all the girls collapsed after crossing the finish line of the final 1500m run and embraced each other-- Jessica had clearly won but the comradery and the sportsmanship was unparalleled.
Finally, what would you say to any girl who wants to start participating in sport?
Go lose yourself in sport, because I guarantee that in doing so, you will find so much more. Just don’t forget your deodorant!
Follow Courtney and her progress in sport HERE
And if you're involved in a sport that you'd love to share with us, then drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to be featured in our THIS GIRL CAN blog series!