Olympic medalist makes triumphant homecoming

Lindsay Jennerich to speak at Wednesday’s RON Talks in Saanich

Patricia Obee and Lindsay Jennerich celebrate Olympic silver in the women’s double sculls in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 12.

Patricia Obee and Lindsay Jennerich celebrate Olympic silver in the women’s double sculls in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 12.

By the time Olympic rowing medalist Lindsay Jennerich returned to Saanich last week, she already had three requests to share her experience as a guest speaker in the community.

The first will be Wednesday, as the 34-year-old will have the silver medal from the lightweight double sculls she won at the Rio de Janeiro Games with teammate Patricia Obee of North Saanich when she presents at the monthly Royal Oak Neighbourhood Talks event in Crumsby’s Cupcake Cafe. Members of the Council of Canadians will also make a presentation tonight. Jennerich, a homegrown champion who attended Royal Oak middle school across the street from Crumsby’s, says she’ll talk about the reality of chasing an Olympic dream, but is open to a longer question and answer period.

“So far I’m trying to use the medal for what its worth and be a yes girl. I’m putting myself out there to do things I’m not necessarily comfortable with,” Jennerich admitted. “One of the other groups I’ll talk to soon is a school, and I have a feeling I’ll be visiting many schools,  which are fun because I love seeing the kids’ reactions.”

Jennerich’s athletic career has been a long one and though she’d like to continue, she feels the tug of reality despite also feeling physically capable of another four-year campaign.

“I don’t want for anything, we are well supported and I would love to say yes to continuing as an athlete. I will love it forever,” Jennerich said. “But I feel like it’s time to have a real job and a family.”

A Cordova Bay girl from the start, Jennerich attended Cordova Bay elementary, Royal Oak, and then Claremont, before competing for the UVic Vikes. She ascended to the national team double scull where she won a World Cup gold medal in 2010 with Tracy Cameron. When Cameron retired, Jennerich was joined by another local, Patricia Obee, and the two struck a chemistry that led to success. They twice won silver on the World Cup stage and then gold at the World Cup in May of this year.

For Jennerich, there is a story she wants to share about the reality of chasing a goal.

“Mostly, I just want to express to people how [the Olympics] has been a goal that I’ve had for so long that I’ve lost track of how it’s not normal,” she said. “I’ve wanted it for so long, it’s become normal to me, and it’s only through other people’s reactions that I’m reminded how it’s not normal. Normal is relative, you make a big dream seem normal by breaking it down, it can be normal. Whatever you want, you just have to chip away at it.”

For now, Jennerich will move forward one step at a time, starting with coaching in the lightweight rowing program at UVic.

Wednesday’s RON Talk will also feature Ted Woynillowicz and Neil Mussell of the Victoria Chapter of the Council of Canadians, who recently presented to Saanich council on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In their eyes, and in the minds of many others, the TPP is a power grab that gives corporations more power than elected politicians.

Following Woynillowicz’s and Mussell’s presentation to Saanich council, a motion was made by RON Talks organizer, Coun. Colin Plant, and supported by council, to ask Woynillowicz and Mussell back. The two will present at a special meeting, open to the public, on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. in Saanich council chambers. They will present to members of three Saanich advisory committees, Healthy Saanich, Planning, Transportation and Economic, and Environment and Natural Areas. The public will also have a chance to speak.

“I assume most in the area are against the TPP, but if someone wants to come and tell us why the TPP is a good thing, I’d like to hear that too,” Plant said.

The advisory committees will make a recommendation at their following meetings, and Plant expects Saanich will send a letter to the federal government opposing the TPP.

RON Talks are on the first Wednesday of every month at Crumsby’s Cupcake Cafe, 4525 West Saanich Rd., at 7 p.m. See the RON Talks Facebook page.