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Road to Rio

We ask three teacher-Olympians about the connection between the classroom and competition, and how to succeed in both.

Photos : Vaughn Ridley/Wrestling Canada Lutte; Canadian olympic comitee

Profile photo of Michelle Fazzari, Ontario Certified Teacher. Michelle is from St. Catharines and is competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in the wrestling category.
Photo: Vaughn Ridley

Michelle Fazzari,
OCT St. Catharines, wrestler
2016 Summer Olympic

“When you are challenged in a way you never have been, it teaches you so much about yourself, focusing and staying in the moment. You have to let yourself be great ... When things get tough, we push through. We also learn to think fast under pressure. If you go through a lesson and see the students aren’t engaged, you just have to figure out a new way to teach.”

Photo: Wrestling Canada Lutte

Lesley Thompson-Willie,
OCT, London, coxswain
1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008 and 2016 Summer Olympics

“Students aren’t always at the same place, with their different motivations and interests. The challenge is finding what speaks to each to get them moving in the right direction. I want students to find what they’re passionate about. If they’re passionate, they’re going to stay fit — and they’ll be healthy both physically and mentally.”

Profile photo of Eric Gillis, Ontario Certified Teacher. Eric is from Guelph and is competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics as a marathoner.
Photo: Canadian Olympic Committee

Eric Gillis,
OCT Guelph, marathoner
2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics

“Getting my teaching degree was much bigger [than making it to the Olympics]. After years of not feeling like a learner, I figured if could teach, then making the Olympics wouldn’t be that big a deal ... Once you find a niche, you put the work in. Once you help students find what excites them, then you can go down different roads.”