Brie Ellard could be the girl next door. She's quiet, well-mannered, easy to get along with and has a great smile. But don't be misled; this 22 year-old is also a driven competitor.
The youngest member of Canada's national rowing team, Brie actually began her athletic career as a gymnast. It was only when a series of injuries forced her off the mat for good that she turned to rowing.
"It was my dad, actually, who first encouraged me to try it," she recalls. Given that her father was the provincial rowing coach at the time, it wasn't a huge leap. Still, Brie quickly mad her mark.
The World Junior Championships, the Canada Games, the Royal Canadian Henley, the U.S. Nationals you name it, Brie's rowed it. At present, she's training for the 2004 Olympics and has already been inducted into the Saskatchewan Hall of Fame.
So what keeps her going? Two things: a strong family and a strong faith in God.
"My family is my lifeline," Brie admits. We're very close and they're always showering me with encouragement."
But come race day, Brie says it's her faith in Christ that really helps her stay focused. "My boat and oars make the shape of a cross," she explains. "When I look at them, I'm reminded of Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
Brie often reflects on this verse off the water as well.
"It's been a struggle to come out of my sheltered environment and face all this new stimuli," she says of the peer pressure. "I'm very careful about not doing things that eat away at my soul."
She admits that it's difficult. Her schedule alone is stressful training three times a day, psychology studies at the University of Regina and a part-time job as a nanny. But hard as it may be, Brie refuses to give up.
"I don't really work as hard as I do for the awards and recognition," she says. "Those things are temporary and don't last. I row because I love being on the water and because God has blessed me with the ability."
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