Believe in yourself and your dreams, even if no one else does.
That’s the message Olympic athlete Arianne Jones injected into the minds of students after speaking in Prince Rupert and Port Edward schools. Jones was part of Canada’s Olympic Luge team, finishing 13th in the Sochi Olympic Games in February.
“I had adversity to overcome. I had a big dream that nobody else believed I could accomplish,” said Jones. “I wanted to let the kids know if you have a dream believe in yourself and work hard because nobody else gets to decide if your dream is valid or not”
Jones started luging when she was 12, with her Olympic dream igniting when she was a forerunner for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
“It was such an unbelievable experience … It lit a flame inside of me [that made me want to pursue it and compete for my country],” she said.
But because luge is a gravity sport and Jones is smaller in stature and weight, her ambitions weren’t taken seriously.
“When I made a statement that I was going to try to make the national team, I didn’t have support from anyone. The coaching staff were very clear to me that they didn’t believe I could do it,” Jones said.
“Instead of crumbling, I decided that I was going to try and give it everything I possibly had.”
Jones’ efforts paid off because she made the national team, but the coaching staff still didn’t have faith in her up until she finished the season off in the top 10 ranking.
Jones has been on the national team for the three years, and had to compete for one of three spots against her counterparts for the Canadian Luge team that would compete in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.
“There’s five world cups before Christmas, and we had achieve two top fourteen results in a world cup,” she said.
It wasn’t until the second last competition that Jones broke the top 14, earning 11th place in Whistler. With one more race to go in Salt Lake City, Jones had to place in the top 12 to achieve her dream.
At Salt Lake City’s competition Jones placed 11th in her first run but was disqualified after her second because of a sled malfunction, which mean she had to face off against a teammate in a head to head race in Calgary. The best of three runs would qualify for the Olympics.
“After the first race, my teammate had beat me by 1/100th of a second,” she said.
However, Jones won the second run which meant whoever won the final race was going to the Olympics. Despite the pressure, Jones ended up winning and left for the Olympics three days later.
“It was a journey that was incredibly difficult. It had amazing highs and devastating lows, but overall it turned me into the person I am today,” she said.
Jones said she’s thankful to her sponsor Pacific Northwest LNG for funding her trip to Prince Rupert to speak to share her story with students.
“I hope they take my story to heart.”