Micha Powell on her comeback and making the Canadian World University team
A weekly series from the sprinter on balancing sports, school and life
Hey, all, Micha Powell here. Welcome to my video diary! I’m a recent University of Maryland graduate with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism, three-time NCAA All-American and 2016 Canadian Olympian.
If you’ve wondered what it takes to be a track and field student-athlete and compete at the international level, look no further. With this weekly video diary, you can follow my journey from training as a student-athlete at UMD to representing Canada at the 2017 World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan, at the end of August. With my degree in broadcast journalism, I will use my reporting and editing skills to produce an in-depth look at the high-performance world of a 400-meter sprinter.
I was driving with my mom back home to Canada on a lengthy 10-hour trip after moving out of my dorm. It felt anticlimactic. I had first arrived at the University of Maryland not knowing how fast I would run, but hoping to leave behind a legacy. I left my dorm room feeling slightly underwhelmed. Questions filled my mind as the car glided on the freeway. Had I accomplished enough? Should I have trained harder? Could I have prevented myself from getting hurt? These questions weren’t constructive in the slightest. In fact, they were filled with self-doubt, overanalyzing and self-criticism.
Four hours into the drive, I checked my email with only one measly bar appearing on my phone, indicating that I was far from any city life. I saw the subject line and immediately had to read it over just to make sure I wasn’t manifesting a message that was not even there. It read: FISU TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT PROPOSAL. The International University Sports Federation had selected me for the World University Games team. I had been given a second chance.
Before I could fully rejoice, I still had to prove fitness. Proving fitness is a protocol administered by your country’s athletic federation to determine whether you are “fit” enough to compete at the elite level. With the World University Games only one month away, it was safe to say that I questioned my body’s capability to fully recover in time. With treatment from my superb Canadian national team physiotherapists, we were able to conjure a plan that would get me back on the track in time for the big trip to Taipei. This plan would consist of cross-training exercises such as pool and bike workouts, AlterG sessions, acupuncture, readjustments — all before I could step back onto the track and into my spikes. (AlterG is an anti-gravity treadmill that allows an athlete to run at high speeds with less body weight by creating a chamber around the legs that reduces the harsh impact the body endures when the athlete usually runs on a hard track surface or on a regular treadmill. I used this machine to facilitate my transition onto the track by easing my muscles into speed workouts.)
Finally, one month of extensive physical therapy and cross-training later, the big day came. It would be my ultimate test of mental and physical strength. Today was the day that I would run my 300-meter time trial to prove my fitness level and once and for all determine whether I would compete in Taipei. I had a great dynamic warm-up that made my muscles feel loose and springy at the same time. It was drizzling outside, paired with a thick layer of overcast skies threatening to metamorphose into a thunderstorm. I was so nervous before getting on the starting line that I had to tell myself whatever happens next, I came to the track, unafraid, with every intention to run well and earn a spot on the national team.
I ran the time trial as fast as I could with only one goal in mind: to make the World University Games Canadian team. After a few hours of deliberation from the head coach of Athletics Canada and my physiotherapist, they all came to the conclusion that I was healthy enough to run in Taipei and represent Canada. My patience and dedication had paid off. I was going to run on the world stage again after all.
Read Micha’s past diaries here.