Kayaker Mark de Jonge competes in London Olympics
Back on trackBy Richard Reesh Woodbury | Jul 20, 2012
Tags: Adrienne Power, London, Olympics, track & field
When Dan Hennigar first met East Jeddore’s Adrienne Power, she was as raw an athlete as he had ever encountered. “She was such a rough runner coming down the track. I think she took up three lanes,” recalls the former head coach of Dalhousie University’s track and field program. Although she had incredible natural speed, her technique needed work. “She would actually have contact with people in the outside lanes because her arms were going way out to the side.”
A lot has changed since then. The 30-year-old graduated from Dalhousie with a bachelor of commerce in 2005. In 2008, she went to the Beijing Olympics where she advanced to the quarterfinals in the individual 200-metre race (her specialty) and in 2010, won two bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games: one in the individual 200-metre race and the other in the 4×400-metre women’s relay.
For most of her professional career, she primarily trained out of Halifax from what one might politely call sub-standard facilities. And for a good chunk of her career, she was receiving minimal financial sponsorships and working a day job.
When Power qualified for the 2008 Olympics, she was working 25 hours a week with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) as a trade and investment officer. “I don’t know how I did it then,” says Power, who spoke with Halifax Magazine regularly in the months leading up to the Canadian Track & Field Championships in June.
Her daily routine included going to work, having a nap in the afternoon to make up for the lack of sleep she was getting, training, having dinner and then going to bed. “It just felt like I was rushing from one thing to the next,” she says. On top of that, she would also have to plan her schedule, book flights, hotels and rental cars for the different track and field events she would compete in.
There was also the time she’d have to devote to pleasing some of her corporate sponsors. At the time, some sponsorships were minimal, ranging between $1,000 to $2,000. “I don’t know if I’d call them sponsorships,” says Power.
There were often a lot of strings attached, with companies demanding she make a certain number of appearances a year at company functions, such as using a ticket a company had for a special dinner function, meeting with a company’s staff and having lunch with its executives. There were also other demands. “They’d want me to give speeches wearing the logo,” says Power, adding they’d want their logo to be on her competition and training gear. Some would even insist on a guarantee the logo be visibly displayed in a media photo once a year.
That’s why it was a real breath of fresh air when Emera came along and offered her full sponsorship with no strings attached. “I’m really happy to have Emera because they don’t want anything,” says Power. “They just want me to run fast.” In July 2011, Emera (the parent company of Nova Scotia Power) announced it would pay Power’s training and associated costs.
With this sponsorship, it meant Power was able to truly begin training full-time, get the right amount of rest, properly monitor her nutrition (including tracking her sugar consumption and taking carbohydrates at specific times of the day) and having adequate time to plan her schedule.
Her life finally revolved around track and field, as opposed to track and field revolving around her life. Last October, she moved to Calgary and also spent some time training in Arizona during the winter.
The transition to a full-time athlete is still a bit of a shock for her. At Dalhousie, her professors often talked about climbing the corporate ladder—the idea is ingrained in her mind. “It seems so strange that I’m not working anymore,” she says. “I know my job is to be a track athlete, but I’m not in a corporate environment anymore.”
But that hasn’t unfolded the way she expected. She didn’t qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. It’s kind of complicated, but in order for Power to have qualified for the Olympics, she would have to match or beat a certain number of specific qualifying times at track events, as well as meet other requirements. For example, a top-four finish at the Canadian Track & Field Championships was a must; she finished in sixth. “I can say I have put everything into track and field this year,” she told the Chronicle Herald in early July. “The planning that came from coaching clearly wasn’t there. I worked harder than I’ve ever worked and this is the worst season I’ve ever had.” (Although she talked with Halifax Magazine extensively before qualifiers, Power declined an interview to discuss the setback.)
Power tells the Chronicle Herald that going into 2013, she’ll be “more angry than ever” and doesn’t plan to retire. “Next year I’m going to come back with a vengeance,” she said.
Clarification: The story “The Power of one” in the July/August issue of Halifax Magazine says Power won a bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. In fact, she won two bronze medals: one in the 200-metre sprint and the other in the 4×400 metre women’s relay.