Heather Steacy is a performance artist who has seen the stage as an elite athlete and musician. She's acutely aware that the stage she's about to enter is grander than anything she's ever seen before.
Steacy will join her brother Jim Steacy (BASc '09) as a hammer thrower, representing Canada at the London Olympic Games this month. While the Horns Athletics product has already represented her country at the World University Games and the IAAF World Track Championships, the Olympics are on another level.
"I honestly don't know what to expect," says the 24-year-old Canadian champion. "Everyone who has been to the Olympics that I've talked to says that they can't describe it, it really is something you have to experience for yourself and I'm excited about that."
Steacy is on virtually the same schedule as her older brother, who experienced his first Olympics at age 24. The goal for him then, and her now, was to soak in the atmosphere, try and make it out of qualifying and build for a medal run in four years.
"I would love to make it to the finals and seeing Jim have that success in 2008 is very encouraging because I see that it as a possibility," says Steacy. "I think that's the main goal, hopefully throw a personal best and anything beyond that, I'm just really excited for the experience."
Steacy is peaking at the right time. She threw her personal best of 72.16 metres and achieved the Olympic A-Plus Standard in her first meet of this season, allowing her to focus her summer on training and gaining strength, rather than grinding to qualify for the Olympic team.
"It was a huge relief to meet that standard the first meet of the season," she says. "It's allowed me to train towards London instead of train towards getting that standard."
Steacy has an obvious mentor in brother Jim but says she hasn't sat down and discussed specifics about performing on the Olympic stage.
"Having spent all of my time training with him and living with him I think I've just learned by osmosis," she says. "He's also really good at letting me learn my own way and not just imposing his way of thinking on me. But it definitely takes some of the pressure off knowing I'll have somebody there who I'm comfortable with."
Jim is excited to relive the innocence of his first Olympic experience through his sister.
"That's going to be so much fun. Having gone through it already, it's going to be cool to watch her do it too and see how much it throws her," he says. "It's a whole different animal than watching it on TV – a shocking experience."
She says she plans to feed off the local support shown at the University's Olympic Send-off Celebration held before the team headed off to London.
"It's really cool and really encouraging to have so many people from the community come out for something like this and show their support," she says. "We know, in the backs of our minds that it's there, but to have them come out like this – it's really nice."
Hammer Throw Qualifying – Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 10 a.m. GMT (4 a.m. MDT)
Hammer Throw Final – Friday, Aug. 10 at 7:35 p.m. GMT (1:35 p.m. MDT)