The past 12 months have been a nightmare for so many athletes. But for Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner, 2021 was a dream year.
With its victory for Canada in Tokyo, not only London, Ont. native has an Olympic gold medal, but also the title of greatest athlete in the world.
But don’t think it went to his head. He might be Superman to some, but to many others, including those closest to him, he looks more like Clark Kent. He would rather wrap himself in a Canadian flag than a Superman cape.
Incredible athlete and now passionate dad, from humble beginnings, the Canadian Athlete of the Year is already training for the 2022 season and plans to defend his Olympic title in 2024. At his training site at Western University, Warner took some time over the holiday season to talk about his golden journey and collect his new trophy.
The call you got to find out you were the Canadian Athlete of the Year and the Lou Marsh Trophy winner?
I was there, actually. I was doing a workout and running on the track, just to warm up for my sprints, and my trainer and agent called me, and they said, “Oh, you have a phone call. And that was Damien Cox, and he shared the news. And yes, they give me a big thumbs up here. I do not know. I’m still speechless at this point, I think, because I’ve been awarded so many accolades and I don’t necessarily know what I’ve done to deserve it. But I am very grateful and humbled by all this year, all this experience that I have had.
How could you stay so anchored?
For me, when I was younger, my mom told me that there was always someone out there taller than you, smarter than you, faster than you and stronger than you. And I think she was telling me that so I could stay humble, you know. Like, never let your head get too big. My mom has been that primary person for me, so every time I do something I always ask myself, “Would my mom be proud of this?” Because she’s been through a lot in her life. She sacrificed a lot for me, my brother and my sister to watch us pursue things like this. So it would be fair if I made her proud as well throughout the experience. I try to do this everyday and hope I do a good job.
What’s the coolest thing that has happened to you since you came back (from the Olympics)?
The coolest thing for me was seeing my family, obviously. I have attended three Olympic Games now, and the first two, I was able to have my family. So there is nothing quite like stepping over the line and going up and hugging those people who helped you get there. I had this experience (in Tokyo), but I was only able to cuddle (head coach Gar Leyshon). And that was a really cool experience, but being able to come home and kiss (partner Jennifer Cotten) and kiss (son) Theo and kiss my mom, yeah, I think that was the coolest thing that ever happened to me. . But it’s a tough list because there were so many great things that I was able to do last summer, and so many opportunities that were given to me. It was really special.
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