Olympic diver Jennifer Abel on her relationship with her mother
With her bubbly personality and her remarquable tenacity, Jennifer Abel is better known in the world of sports to have won an Olympic medal during the 2012 Olympics in London. Inspiring, to say the least, Jennifer was, and still is to this day, one of the youngest divers to ever participate in the Olympics at the ripe age of 16 years old. They say success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm, well Jennifer shares with us how her mom kept her enthusiasm high during her successful career as an Olympic Athlete.
1. We should start off with a little background on your childhood and your school background.
I grew up on the North Shore of Montreal, in Laval actually. I started playing sports at 4 years old and at that time, I wasn’t really sure what I liked. I tried so many sports… soccer, tennis, swimming, name it. It wasn’t until my mom had the idea to initiate me to diving that I discovered the sport that I would be passionate about for life. All through elementary school, my mom would come pick me up between shifts so I could go to my practices. After that, I was enrolled in a Sports-Étude program in high school which allowed me to practise diving from 1-3pm and 4-6pm every day from Monday to Friday with my classmates. It provided a little break to my mom that was still, and always, heavily involved in my career.
2. Who would normally accompany you when you would participate in the Olympics?
As we hadn’t planned for me to go to the Pekin Olympics and it was a bit of a surprise, I went to my first Olympics solely with my coach. But I was accompanied by my parents for the two following Olympics! I even had the chance to have them rooting for me from the benches when I won my bronze medal in London.
3. Let’s talk about your mother, was she present during your numerous competitions?
My mom would always try to come see me as much as she could. If it was a provincial or national competition she would almost always come, but my many international competitions were a little out of reach sometimes. Nevertheless, she has cheered me on at almost every single competition I have participated in, in Canada. She even has this tradition where she and my grandmother drive to Windsor, which is a 12-hour drive, for the Diving World Series to see me compete every year.
4. Do you consider that your mother has made a lot of sacrifices to help you realize your dreams?
She has, very often. Not only has she made sacrifices for me, she has also made sacrifices for our whole family. My mom has always been there to encourage us and push us to be the best that we can. She was also always there to remind me about my values and the reasons why I started diving in the first place every time I was going through a rough patch. She has always believed in me, she kept telling everyone for years and years that her little girl would go to the Olympics… look at me now!
5. What is the most beautiful moment you shared with your mother?
I have always had a great relationship with my mom, she’s my confidant and my best friend. There are times when I don’t want to tell her everything because I know she’ll be right about that one thing that’s bothering me. But she always figures out even before I tell her. I think the best moment I’ve had with my mom was when I offered her a plane ticket for her birthday so she could come see me at the Toronto Pan American Games in 2015. I was so glad she was there because she watched me, with everyone in the crowd, beat my personal diving record that day. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life and I am thankful my mother was there to witness it as she is, and always will be, a huge part of my success.