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Name: Noelle Montcalm
Hometown: Windsor, Ontario
Country: Canada
Age: 30
Sport:  Athletics/Track and Field – 400m hurdle + 400m
Years in the sport:  Since I was 12!

How did you get started in hurdles/track and field?
A local track club was mentioned to me by my uncle and so I joined! I remember eating a good home cooked meal, and then falling asleep on the way to the facility, but then being so inspired by all the older athletes putting in the work. I started running cross country, and then just gradually moved down in distance as I stayed in the club. I was introduced to the hurdles until my first year of high school, and I didn’t start doing the 400mH until 2012!

Goals for the next year?
To make the World Relay, PanAm, and World Championship teams in 2019, and the Olympic Games team in 2020! A big goal is to also run a personal best.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself retired from the sport, and possibly giving back in some way. I tried coaching years back, but didn’t love it at the time, but maybe I will have different feelings being removed as an athlete. I am also a registered nurse, working in long term care at the moment, but I see myself branching out into health promotion, and possibly going back to school.

Favourite athlete?
In track and field, Allyson Felix or Sanya Richards. I also love watching Novak Djokovic on the tennis court.

What has been your biggest challenge as an athlete and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been believing in myself. This was something I struggled with for a very long time, and I would constantly doubt myself, even though I know the work I put in on a daily basis. I admit, I do still have self-doubts, but I have the proper tools, like a strong support system, behind me constantly encouraging me and helping me to believe in myself.

Best advice that you have been given?
If you can’t believe in yourself, how can you give permission for others to believe in you?
Also, that our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. – It is okay to be proud of ourselves and to strive for more.

Any hobbies?
I have always loved to read.

Favourite music?
I will listen to most anything, except heavy metal. It really depends on the mood I am in. There is sometimes I will just listen to sounds of nature or “sleep” music. Other times, I love hip hop/rap. And a wide variety between.

What’s the best part of competing?
Getting to see what my body is capable of and showing this off in front of a crowd.

Favourite quote?
Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.

If you could compete in another sport what would it be and why?
Tennis. I think those athletes are incredibly fit. And it’s another individual sport.

Favourite place to compete?
Anywhere in Europe. The locals are just such fans of the sport. They appreciate it so much, and there is always an amazing atmosphere.

Do you have any special warm up routine?
I typically do the same thing before every competition, but one thing I do ensure, is walking the track the day before or a couple hours before my race, just to get a feel for the perception of things and the way the wind might be blowing.

What time is your alarm set for?
Never! I usually wake up the same time every morning between 7 and 8.

Ice cream or cake?
Ice cream!

What do you do on your rest days?
Errands, usually get things done that have been sitting on my to-do list.

Last non-food item you bought?
A dress.

Do you have a lucky number?
3, my birthdate, or 2.

Best thing you’ve done in the past 3 months?
Moved to Florida to train in the sun!

Scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Moved to Florida to train! I really shook up my routine of the last decade. I am trying to live in this moment to see how it pans out.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one person and thing would you like to have?
I would probably need a pen and paper, just because I know my mind doesn’t stop, so I would have to write it all down! And I would probably spend it with my niece because I know she would be able to embrace it and keep me smiling!

What would be your perfect meal?
I love a big spinach salad, with lots of veggies, and chicken or salmon, and roasted sweet potatoes!

What performance are you most proud of?
Nationals 2016 to make the Olympic team.

Noelle Montcalm

Hardest sport moment you’ve had to push through?
Mentally breaking down through appeals processes while still maintaining my training, in an Olympic year. I was named to the national team ‘carding’ list, and then was bumped off, and in the process it felt as though my credibility and prior successes were being brought into question. I really had to surround myself with a positive support team that helped to lift me up and encourage me to believe in myself.

What have you learned from track that has helped you in other parts of your life?
Just the ability to believe in myself and what I am capable of. It has translated into the working world (I am a registered nurse) as I have confidence in my nursing abilities even though I lack certain experience at this stage in my career.

Favourite place to eat?
I truthfully prefer homemade meals!

If you had to travel either forward in time or backward in time, which would you choose? Why?
Back. Unfortunately I do have regrets in my life, and if I could go back and change some things, I would love to be able to.

Favourite animal?
Sea otter. They are fun to watch.

Dream job besides an athlete?
Registered nurse.

What motivates you to keep training?
Just seeing how much I can push myself, and what my body is capable of to be the best athlete I can be.

Favourite time of year?
Spring – finally warms up, and competition season starts!

Of all the people you have trained with over the years, from whom have you learned the most and why?
Former Canadian decathlete, Jamie Adjetey-Nelson. He was always an athlete I looked up to, for his dedication and determination on the track, and the way in which he approached his training. He was and is always someone I can go to for advice on or off the track.

How many hours do you train at a given week?
Typically three hours a day, 6 days a week – so 18-20 including therapy and rehab.

Best memory you have from a time when you were training?
Competing for the Lancer program was an amazing time in my athletic career. I can remember running around the indoor track during training, and hearing and visualizing Lancer Corner, where all the athletes would be cheering as you rounded for the homestretch.

If you could trade places with anyone for a day who would it be? Why?
My sister! She is such a free spirit, and has two amazing kids, and lives in an amazing place. I would love to just be in that mindset, for one day though!

Favourite book?
The Bridges of Madison County.

What does a typical day of training look like?
I eat a good breakfast – typically oatmeal with banana and berries, and a coffee. Head to my workout around 10 or 11. Grab a snack before heading to the weight room. After practice I need some down time. So after I shower and clean up, I decompress by either taking a small nap, writing down what I did for training, or reading. I also ensure I get therapy at least once a week.

Anything people be surprised to learn about you?
I struggle with anxiety and some days, I can’t even verbalize why. I am an advocate for mental health awareness, because it translates to every area of your life, and no one should struggle alone. The more we talk about it, the more we will see that we are all very much alike.

What is the funniest thing has happened to you/others while training?
I was hit by a butterfly while I was sprinting over hurdles, on two different occasions! Maybe it is lucky!

Best movie and tv series?
Edward Scissorhands will always be my favourite movie! And as far as TV series.. Parenthood, This is Us, Suits.

Favourite food while training?
Oatmeal. Eggs. Bananas.

What inspires you?
Just seeing how far I can push myself. And being able to be a role model for the younger generation, especially females who don’t often remain in sport.

What do you enjoy most about hurdles?
The commitment throughout the whole race. You cannot slack off because it will quickly be shown by not hitting your stride pattern. I love that it keeps my mind in my own lane for much of the race because you need to focus on your own hurdles.

Advice that you have for someone starting out in track?
Keep at it! Dream something big, believe in yourself, surround yourself with a positive support team, and don’t stop trying despite what may seem like insurmountable obstacles and setbacks.

What is the most crucial part of your training?
Recovery. I am not new to this sport, and my body has been through a lot, so I need to keep it in top form to be able to train at the level that I do.

Anyone you would like to thank?
All those who have been in my corner since I first had a dream of competing for Canada and becoming an Olympian – my family, my coaches, and people I don’t even know personally. It always amazes me when I receive messages from people telling me they are cheering and rooting for me. And, I want to thank those who doubted me too, because that really lights a fire under me and maintains my focus!

Find Noelle Montcalm on social media:
Twitter: @noellemontcalm
Instagram: @noellemontcalm

If you liked this article, you might like our interview with Lisa Weyhenmeyer of Sweden!