Photo: Catherine Farquharson
Marnie McBean – 3-time Olympic Gold Medallist, Author, Olympic Athlete Mentor
Marnie McBean and her rowing partner Kathleen Heddle are Canada’s most decorated Summer Olympians, winning double gold in Barcelona in 1992, then gold and bronze four years later in Atlanta. And while their athletic exploits surely inspired many young Canadians to take up sport, it’s McBean’s role post-competition that continues to make an impact on young Canadian athletes.
For the past decade, from Torino to Sochi, McBean has worked as a specialist in Olympic athlete preparation, mentoring athletes from all sports, summer and winter, helping them overcome their fears and doubts.
“I refer to myself as the captain of swagger. It’s my role to help Canadian athletes take all their swagger and transfer that to the Olympics,” she says. “My message is more about belief and perseverance.
“I don’t need to motivate these athletes. I try to normalize the path and communicate to people that there are no superheroes, it’s really just ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
Derek Covington, the person in charge of Games preparation for the Canadian Olympic Committee, says “Marnie has a very straightforward, no b.s. approach. When she speaks to athletes in a mentor role, they get the straight goods. She’s been really good at making sure athletes are focused on their performance – not the distractions.”
McBean, 47, evolved her career as an Olympic champion and mentor into a best-selling motivational book, The Power of More.
“Whether it’s someone who thinks they are capable of winning at the Olympics or someone who’s looking to run 5K – you need to break it down to small steps – it’s the same process,” says McBean. “The first step is to buy a pair of shoes, then put them on, then run one day, two days. As soon as you start populating the goal — take pictures and make a photo album. Then you have a path. The difference between the dream and goal is the path.”
Photo: Courtesy Canadian Olympic Committee
1992 double Olympic gold medalists Marnie McBean and her rowing partner Kathleen Heddle.
McBean, a new mother, says the things that drive her differ on any given day. Motivation could come from a love of learning, from a desire to be strong, from hating to lose, from wanting to be the best wife and mother possible…
It is about little steps and challenging yourself.
“Everyone has goals and ambitions, whether it’s in sport, business, family or just to make your grass green. Whatever we apply our ambitions to, it’s the same,” McBean says, “It is about little steps and challenging yourself.”