From the Olympics to SAIT
Two-time Olympian, Melanie McCann, will be representing the SAIT Trojans as a cross-country athlete this season.
McCann fell in love with modern pentathlon, an Olympic event made up of five events, when she got invited to try it in high school when she was 15-years-old.
“I got a phone call from the gym teacher of a neighbouring high school and [he] asked me if I wanted to give it a whirl,” said McCann. She started training and competing at the regional level, then the provincial level, national level, and eventually started getting opportunities to compete in international events.
“I always knew I wanted to go to the Olympics, I was fascinated with the Olympics
The five events of the modern pentathlon are swimming, fencing, horseback riding, running and shooting.
Her first fencing lesson was in the gym teacher’s drive way, and her first shooting lesson was late at night in a high school gym.
Out of all the events in pentathlon, fencing is her favourite. However, McCann says it is important to enjoy all the events.
She competed in the 2012 London Olympics, where she finished in 11th place, the best finish by a Canadian pentathlete. McCann also competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics and tried to strive for more, but ended up finishing 16th. She said that the goal is always to win a medal and to push herself for one in all Olympics.
“Pentathlon can be so unpredictable, really anyone in the top fifteen can win.”
McCann knew from a young age that she wanted to be an Olympian.
“I always knew I wanted to go to the Olympics, I was fascinated with the Olympics.”
She has been implementing high performance training for the last 10 years, and training is on-going throughout the off-season. Between the Olympics, her training cycles in four-year segments and she just got done year one, which is more of a down year for athletes that are training for the summer games. Progressively, every year Olympic training will get more serious and intense as qualification standards get higher.
Initially, she thought that she would go to the Olympics as a competitive swimmer.
“When my younger sister started beating me in the pool, I figured I needed to find another path to the Olympics,” McCann laughed.
When first starting out, McCann looked up to her roommate, Calgary native Joshua Riker-Fox, who was a source of inspiration in the early years of deciding how far she wanted to pursue the sport.
Her favourite moments so far have been walking out during the opening ceremonies for both Olympics. McCann said it was a dream to be able to put on the team Canada uniform and walk out during the ceremonies, both were different experiences, but equally as special.
McCann is currently in her fourth year of eligibility in cross-country for SAIT and she said that cross-country was a good fit for her modern pentathlon career.
“Being able to slot cross-country in with the SAIT Trojans is a perfect fit, perfect training and is a great way to build my aerobic base.”