The Rhona Martin Story
Jim Byers of the Toronto Star painted a pretty sad picture of the last couple of years of Rhona Martin's life; she was the skip of the gold-winning curling team at the 2002 Olympics, and has managed to be selected for the UK team for the upcoming Olympics in Turin. But it is clear her path has been pretty rough.
The article describes the high points in an interesting way:
She flew home to a heroine's welcome. She met with the Queen and got an MBE at Buckingham Palace. She taught Avril Lavigne the finer points of her sport. She was lauded by Prime Minister Tony Blair and at least one newspaper has referred to her as "The Girl Who Threw the Stone of Destiny."Now there is an issue in that description that deserves greater scrutiny. What the heck is Avril Lavigne doing learning curling from a Scot? She comes from Napanee, medium-town Ontario, and it is clear there were places she could have learned to curl very well as a young person.
Perhaps the point is that curling was not cool for a young person in Napanee but might be for a rising performer visiting the UK.
But back to Rhona Martin.
Martin told the Scottish Daily Record that the last 12 months have "been the worst year of my life."Well, I must say I admire her commitment to the sport. And it seems to me this makes most of the whining I read about sport funding in Canada look pretty churlish. The whole story seems quite inconsistent to me with the highly managerial approach that the UK has taken in building their Olympic curling teams for Turin.
Martin said she and her husband of 15 years are no longer together.
"Our marriage has irretrievably broken down because of financial problems. The (Department of Social Security) pays part of my rent. (But) if it wasn't for funding from the Scottish Institute of Sport and SportScotland, I wouldn't be going to Turin."
Martin, 39, said she's struggling to hold things together for her son Andrew, 10, and daughter Jennifer, 13.
"I owe nothing, but I've no money either — and my kids need a future and a roof over their heads," she told the Daily Record.
"I want to go to another Olympics and win another curling competition. But when I come back from Turin it's going to be harder. Lottery support (from the government) stops when I step off the plane from Turin. For any mortgage, you need to have a steady income. I can't rely on appearance fees because that's not steady income."
"Salt Lake," Martin said recently, "definitely feels like a long time ago."
Well, my guess is I may find myself cheering for Rhona Martin again next month.