An Interview with Olympian and Lawyer, Tricia Smith.
by Jesse Tarbotton
Member of the 1976, 1980, 1984 (silver medal) and 1988 Olympic teams
Sport: Coxless Pairs (Rowing)
Practice Area: Insurance Law (non-practising)
Current affiliation: Barnescraig & Associates (liability adjusters)
Within moments of meeting lawyer and Olympic silver medallist Tricia Smith the considerable scope of her contributions to the Olympic movement were apparent. Freshly returned from a meeting of the Pan-American Sports Organization Women’s Committee in Ecuador, Tricia was enthusiastic about the role of sport in the pursuit of gender equality and how this can take many different forms in different cultures. At one time Canada’s most internationally medalled athlete, Tricia is a tireless advocate for women’s equal involvement in sport, from competing to coaching and administration.
Covering each of Tricia’s past and current roles in the Olympic movement, including: Vice-President of the Canadian Olympic Committee; Honorary Mayor of Vancouver’s Olympic Village, along with Rick Hansen; and board member of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport would be a tall order, so I encourage you to visit www.bcsportshalloffame.com to learn about Tricia’s many achievements in greater detail.
Competing in the women’s coxless pairs, Tricia attained international success, along with her rowing partner Betty Craig Eaton. She demonstrated great versatility over her competitive career, also successful at an elite level in the coxed four and eights. Over lunch, I asked Tricia about her experiences as a four-time Olympic rower, her current involvement in the Olympic movement and her reflections about the relationship between the law and competitive sport.
- What were your most memorable Olympic experiences?
One was marching from the athletes’ village to the stadium in 1976, at home in Montreal. An old drill sergeant was attempting to keep us in formation as we made our way toward the stadium. The path was lined with supporters, all cheering for Canada. We went into the tunnel under the stadium and you could hear the drums from the music. Then we came out into the light and they announced “Canada.” The roar was deafening and continued for our entire march around the track of the stadium. The other, of course, was winning the silver medal in 1984!
- Are there any lessons learned from your experience as an Olympian that can be applied to your career in the law?
Yes. Setting both long-term and short-term goals, that is the key to staying motivated – and make sure you are having fun at what you’re doing. Having fun is just as important when you’re making a living as it is in sport.
Another obvious one is competitiveness. Lawyers are, by and large, competitive, motivated, and intelligent groups of people who know how to get things done. My rowing teammates had those qualities.
- What advice would you give to young athletes striving toward the Olympics?
To think of the big picture… so what if you’re the fastest rower (or anything) in the world…. How does this fit into what else you are going to do in your life? You’ve got to put it all into context.
This article was published in the December 2009 issue of BarTalk. © 2009 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.