Meagan Duhamel could have given up a long time ago — she nearly retired in 2010.
But she didn’t.
Duhamel refused to let go of her dream. She refused to let setbacks and injuries derail her desire to keep going. It doesn’t matter the height of the mountain she has to climb or how stiff a challenge, Duhamel has always been ready to back up her beliefs with her actions on the ice, and against the best figure skaters in the world.
Duhamel has endured her share of pain on her journey over the last 10 years and since she was a child learning to skate with the Walden Figure Skating Club. She has had four stress fractures in her foot, a stress fracture in her back, a herniated disc in her lower back and a nerve dysfunction in her leg.
It’s hard to find someone who has as much fight in her as Duhamel. Nothing has ever been handed to her. Any medal or accolade she has, she has earned it the hard way.
By no means does she strike an imposing figure. Duhamel stands just a sliver under five feet, but has one heck of a raging competitive fire burning inside. She is petite only in physical stature and packs a big heart, and an even bigger desire to fight for what she believes in.
On the ice, Duhamel is graceful, powerful and charismatic. She is the same off the ice.
Figure skating has defined Duhamel in her young life. She dreams of representing Canada in the Olympics. This is why she fights for her place in the sport with skating partner, Eric Radford.
She feels she is as close as she has ever been to realizing her Olympic dreams.
She will allow nothing to stand in her way. She has fought hard to get where she is today. She is by no means even close to being spent.
If anything, Duhamel is preparing herself to fight harder than she ever has in her life to wear Canada’s colours on the biggest athletic stage known to mankind.
“I have had more heartbreak in my skating career than success, but one thing I will never do is give up,” the 27-year-old said recently. “I believe you have to fight for what you want and that it is the last person standing, the one who never quit, will be the most successful.
“I can’t explain why I am so driven despite all my obstacles. I just stay positive no matter what happens and if I hit a roadblock, I find a way to work past it.”
Duhamel and Radford had a breakthrough season last year. They won the national title for the first time. They finished fifth at the world championship.
This season, the pair has continued to move forward with solid, but far from satisfying, performances. In November, they earned the silver medal at the Trophée Eric Bompard international event. They took fourth place at the ISU Grand Prix in early December.
The big goals for this season: winning the Canadian title again and the world championship, which will take place in London, Ont., in March 2013.
Duhamel and Radford want to use this season to establish themselves as premier contenders for the 2014 Olympics. They are working with an acting coach to bring more emotion and character into their performances. They are leaving nothing to chance.
“Every single day, the Olympics is driving me,” Duhamel said. “It’s the missing piece to the puzzle. I have achieved everything I ever dreamed about in skating except going to the Olympic Games, and I will do whatever it takes to get to Russia and stand on the podium.
“As long as Eric and I keep improving and pushing the envelope and pushing ourselves, we feel like the sky is the limit.”
Duhamel has been figure skating for almost her entire life. She can’t remember a time when she wasn’t skating. She has received more than medals and praise for her efforts. The sport has given her more to be grateful for. It has helped make her into a strong-willed woman who doesn’t take no for an answer and always believes in overcoming any hurdle with the right attitude.
“I have fought hard and worked hard for every bit of success I’ve ever had,” she said. “I have learned to work hard for what you want and that nothing will ever be handed to you on a silver platter. I have learned sometimes life isn’t fair and you won’t always get what you want.
“I have learned that when someone says it can’t be done and that you aren’t good enough, you have to dig deep, believe in yourself and keep on going.”