Groves exercises her right to work hard
Canadian speed skater Kristina Groves, BSc’04, almost never takes a break. She spent eight years earning her degree, won two Olympic medals in 2006, is coming off her best season ever with nine medals and just returned from a 25,000-kilometre, eight-day trek to Rwanda in support of Right To Play (RTP).
“This was one of the things on my list of things to do in my life,” said Groves after returning from Africa. She visited Rwanda with Arne Dankers, BSc’05, Hayley Wickenheiser and Jennifer Heil, all athlete ambassadors for RTP, an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play to help children develop in disadvantaged areas of the world.
“It was shocking to see how some people live, but the best part of going to Rwanda was the realization that we are exactly the same as they are. I was so happy to experience it for myself,” said Groves.
While many athletes take a vacation to regenerate during the off-season, Groves’ idea of a break was to join RTP’s Rwanda campaign to raise $100,000 by the end of July (www.righttoplay.com/rwandachallenge).
When the 30-year-old was a U of C student from 1995 to 2004, there were few other national team athletes who were balancing training with courses. “I enjoyed seeing the world outside the speed skating ‘bubble’,” Groves said. “I liked that I could combine the two parts of my life. This is a really unique place to do that because our training facility is right here on campus.”
As a 10-year member of the national team, Groves trains six days a week and competes out of the country for weeks at a time. She splits her time between training, working with RTP, public speaking and playing the guitar.
Groves plans to utilize her kinesiology education more fully when she leaves the sport. “Someday I would like to help our aging baby boomers maintain an active lifestyle.”
Coming off her best-ever season, Groves is back at the Olympic Oval preparing for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver—once again with no break in sight.