This is one of the most acute presentations of what defines my life as a professional athlete – a story that represents the philosophy where having balance and some separation from the sport will give me that edge and long term ability to develop as an athlete and enjoy the process. First and foremost, it shares my true passion and the drive behind what I do – my family. As I sit here alone in Spain, I realise that the name of this doco holds more truth and direction for me now than what it did when we filmed it.
My wife (Sally) and I have spent the last decade working hard to enable me to do this sport whilst ensuring we keep our family unit together. There are a lot of goals – big and small. The big ones are typically about winning key races. The small ones are the combination of micro-achievements that add up to give me the best shot at accomplishing those big goals. Before each pinnacle race is over we are already turning our heads to a new one – consistently pivoting, especially now. As the goals evolve – one thing remains – my family continue to be involved. At every turning point, I ask – will this decision mean I miss important experiences in my kids lives? As our kids get older Sally and I acknowledge they both have goals they want to pursue on their own two feet. But as a father, I know there are moments that are not worth sacrificing. We have always tread the line of sacrifice in a strategic way and made sure that the time we spend with our kids is quality.
I have now been away from home for seven weeks. It was a tough call to make especially in light of MIQ struggles and not being sure when I would be able to come home. Whilst being here, there have been times I lost motivation and passion for my career but for me, the tough times have always played a big role in my mindset.
We are not sure what is next, but I have reached a point in my career that conflicts with the family philosophy I’ve always lived by and to push forward – more sacrifice is on the cards. The ability for me to continue racing on the world stage is not achievable unless I am willing to keep leaving New Zealand knowing I don’t have a guaranteed timeframe for getting home and being away from my family for a long time. I kept this realisation to myself for a while as it is a tough conversation to have with Sally and the kids but their eventual response was ‘no matter what, they are committed to the journey, where ever it takes us’.
If we pull it off, it will be the proudest achievement of my life because we managed to do it together. We shared the good times and the big battles and our life as a family would be defined by the adventures along the way. With any luck, I can also prove that you don’t have to sacrifice the people you love the most to achieve your ambitions.