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Sandi Mercier at the World Games

posted 22 Aug 2015, 18:31 by Brockville Ontario   [ updated 22 Aug 2015, 18:33 ]

Brockville's Sandi Mercier poses with the sixth and eighth place ribbons she won at this year's Special Olympics World Summer Games. (JONATHON BRODIE/The Recorder and Times)

Sandi Mercier didn't get on the podium at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, but she couldn't be happier.

The 19-year-old traveled more than 4,000 kilometres to Los Angeles from Brockville and she would have no problem doing it all over again.

She completed about eight months of hard training and she wouldn't have changed it for the world.

Mercier ended the international event with a sixth-place finish in shot put and the eighth spot in the 100-metre race.

She'll keep her World Games ribbons in a box along with the other medals she's won over her five years being involved in Special Olympics. The memories, though, will be something Mercier will carry with her forever.

Just ask her what was the best part of the World Games for her.

Was it competing on a world level? Nah.

What about being ranked as high as sixth in the world for something she worked so hard at? Nope.

How about getting the chance to participate in an event with thousands of people watching in the stadium? Guess again.

"I would have to say the opening and closing ceremonies. It took forever, but it was fun," Mercier said about her favourite moment at the World Games, a sold-out party complete with special guests like first lady Michelle Obama, musician Avril Lavigne and a handful of WWE superstars. "They had a carpet that we walked down when we came in for the opening ceremonies."

In the 100-metre event the Brockville athlete got a personal best time and her two national coaches couldn't stop jumping up and down when they saw the time she had clocked in at. Her coaches' reaction is the first things Mercier talks about when specifically asked about how the race went.

Mention shot put and Mercier retells a story about someone yelling, "You can do this Canada," and her looking around to see who the fan was supporting, only to realize the national cheer was for her.

The athletic achievements and reflections are something you almost have to coax out of Mercier. She's more apt to talk about the red-carpet treatment that was rolled out for her and the other athletes during the week of the Games, complete with greetings and cheers at the airport and shuttles to the stadium with a police escort.

"It was pretty cool," Mercier said, simply describing the whole event.

She doesn't regret the five-days-a-week style of training she did to prepare for the event and hopes to get back to the workouts soon, despite the next Games not coming for another four years. Her eyes light up when she says where she thinks the next World Games might be -"Hawaii."

Mercier might have come out of L.A. without a top-three medal, but she left the World Games with something much more valuable to her.

She wouldn't consider the next Games a place for redemption if she qualified for the Aloha State competition. Instead, it would be a place to add on to the memories she's already won.

Sandi Mercier - Staying-on-top-of-the-world - Recorder and Times 08/13/2015