Laurier graduates Brent Laing and John Morris accomplish their Olympic dream

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Competing at the Olympics is every athlete’s dream, and two former Golden Hawks got to live out that dream this past February.

Laurier graduates John Morris and Brent Laing represented Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

Laing curled for the Canadian men’s team, while Morris took part in the first ever mixed doubles tournament at the Olympics.

While the men’s team came up just short of a medal after finishing in fourth place, John Morris took home the gold medal after winning the mixed doubles trial with teammate Kaitlyn Lawes.

This was Morris’ second time representing Canada at the Winter Olympic games, after being a part of the gold medal-winning Team Martin in 2010.

But the former Hawk pointed out that the challenge wasn’t necessarily easier this time around.

“I don’t think it was easier. It was different and I definitely drew upon my experience from 2010, but just representing Canada at the Olympics is a feat that is very difficult,” Morris said.

“That was just as difficult this time as it was last time. My first Olympic experience helped, but I wouldn’t say one was easier than the other.”

On the other hand, this was Brent Laing’s first Olympic experience and, while the excitement level was at an all-time high, Laing mentioned that when it got down to business, the curling wasn’t much different.

Not only has Morris followed his passion, he’s excelled at it. A podium finish at the Olympics requires a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication, and it’s easy to see that Morris has definitely put in the work behind the scenes.

“Once it was time to play, it didn’t feel a whole lot different than a regular event. Obviously there is a little more pressure. The excitement was more about being a part of Team Canada at the Olympics and being able to call yourself an Olympian. But the curling itself was the [same],” he said.

The connection between Laing and Morris extends much farther than the Olympics.

The two have been long time teammates, as they curled together from 1997-2003, and they still remain friends to this day.

“It was pretty cool [to see John]. Obviously we still remain friends to this day. I’m always happy for him and his success, and he’s had tons of it. For him to win a gold medal was super cool. I was cheering for him and was excited for him,” Laing said.

Laing has now been curling for over 20 years and even though he was unable to make an Olympic appearance before 2018, the Meaford native explained that he was always motivated.

“It’s just the love for competition, the game, and the success. It’s been a crazy ride with lots of ups and downs. I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of some great teams, lots of grand slams, world championships and all those things,” he said.

“More than anything, it’s loving to be a part of a team, trying to get better and doing something that not everyone gets the chance to do.”

Part of the motivation for Laing came from his wife, Jennifer Jones, who skipped the Canadian women’s curling team to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympic games.

“Jennifer was a huge inspiration. Watching her and the rest of her teammates winning in Sochi, how they embraced it and how well they played, and specifically how well Jennifer played was very inspiring. It was just extra motivation for me to get to the Olympics,” Laing added.

“Hearing all the stories about the athletes that she met and all the experiences she had was very motivating.”

For Morris, the motivation came from his natural love for curling. Along with being a professional curler, the Gloucester native also spends time firefighting and being a gourmet chef.

Balancing three different professions doesn’t come easy for anybody, but Morris mentioned that he learned some valuable time management skills during his time at Laurier.

“When I started [curling] at Laurier, I was going to school full-time, I was also competing on the World Curling Tour. That’s when I learned how to manage my time. I’ve never been perfect at it, it’s always a work in progress. But learning to balance everything at Laurier was valuable because I still use [that experience] to this day,” he said.

“I’m a big advocate of following your passion. That’s why I’ve continued curling. I also love firefighting; I think it’s the best job in the world. And I love to cook. So I just try to make that work,” Morris added.

“It’s not always easy. I had to do some part-time work for a bit so I could follow my Olympic dream, but it’s all about time management, following your passion and putting the work in.”

Not only has Morris followed his passion, he’s excelled at it. A podium finish at the Olympics requires a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication, and it’s easy to see that Morris has definitely put in the work behind the scenes.

“The biggest thing is to never give up on your dream. I know a lot of people might give up because they find school too stressful, too time consuming, and that will make them give up on things they really care about. Find a way to make it all work,” Morris said.

Morris and Laing accomplished their dream after years of hard work, and they will serve as an inspiration, not only for students at Laurier, but for aspiring athletes all over Canada.

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