Six-time medallist Clara Hughes and boxing favourite Mary Spencer break down their Olympic lead-up routines
As Canada’s athletes gear up for the London 2012 Olympic Games, we speak with a veteran and a newcomer—six-time medallist Clara Hughes and first-time Olympian boxer Mary Spencer—about preparation, pressure and product.
Sport: Road cycling
Hometown: Utah and the Eastern Townships, Que.
Competing: 22 years
Achievements: Six medals in both Summer and Winter Games (in speed skating, now retired). One more will make her Canada’s most decorated Olympian ever.
What’s a typical day like?
“I train for between three and seven hours. My longest training day would be a 200-kilometre ride.”
When do you wake up?
“Six a.m. I always get up with time to chill out for an hour-and-a-half, to have coffee and relax.”
Decaf or caffeine?
“I can’t function without caffeine—in the Starbucks universe I get a quad Americano.”
You’re the face of Secret deodorant. What makes you sweat more—cycling or skating?
“The bike. I regularly lose two to three kilograms of fluids in a training session because it’s hot. Sometimes I’m on my bike for seven hours.”
What beauty products can’t you live without?
“Secret deodorant—I don’t want to stink, to be that rider in the pack. Mascara, and it has to be waterproof. Hair products. I love Kérastase.”
Is that your natural hair colour?
“I got it from my grandmother. I get a gloss a couple of times a year to keep it shiny.”
What helps you outlast the competition?
“The thought of giving up on something. That makes me cringe. I never want to be seen as a quitter.”
What’s your beauty challenge?
“Not looking like a jock all the time.”
What are the elite athlete’s fashion challenges?
“My rib girth is big. That’s my lung capacity, so it’s really good for sport, but when I try and find dresses, I can’t get the zippers up. And I’ve got scars all over me from crashing on my bike at 70 kilometres an hour.”
You’ve been open about your battle with depression. What advice can you share?
“Don’t think you can do everything on your own—until I accepted help from others I was stuck. Reach out to everyone around you. If you’re strong, give that support to someone you love.”
What’s a typical day like?
“I get a phone call from my coach at 5 a.m. He’ll drop me off eight miles from the gym and make me run to the gym. Then we’ll head to the boxing club. It’s about 9 a.m. before we finish and we’re able to grab some breakfast.”
You’ve been training for four hours…
“It’s the best feeling, because by 1 p.m. I’ve had two workouts. I’ll have a little nap after breakfast and then I’ll be ready to spar. I’m not done yet. I’ll have my final workout at 2 p.m. After that, the best part of the day: an ice-cold shower or bath.”
What time is that?
And now you’re a Cover Girl.
“Cool things have happened in the last 10 years, but a lot are goals that I’ve set and reached. This came out of the blue. It was totally unexpected. To think of all the other Cover Girls out there…they’re people that I look up to.”
Have you had to use makeup to conceal a boxing injury?
“Well, one time I was hanging out with my coach and he said, ‘You need to do something about that black eye, because I’m getting dirty looks.’”
What are the three beauty products you can’t live without?
“Mascara, lip gloss, some neutral eyeshadow.”
What are your beauty challenges?
“I am constantly in headgear. It can be gross where the headgear covers the skin, especially if you’re sharing headgear.
I’ve seen people break out where the headgear might go. That’s why I wear a bandana.”
You’re a natural athlete who discovered boxing at 17. Why boxing?
“The first day I saw boxers training in a boxing club, I was hooked. I remember meeting a coach, learning a few things, and walking out of the gym thinking, ‘I’m going to be Canadian champion in a year.’ It took a year-and-a-half, and I was.”
You’re Ojibwa and you make a point of speaking to other aboriginal young people.
“I’d be very selfish if I didn’t. I’ve had many role models throughout my life. When I talk to kids, the main thing I like to share is: Whatever your dream is, even if it seems wild and crazy, pursue it. I was a dreamer to walk into a boxing club and think, ‘In a year I’m going to be a champion.’ Nobody discouraged that dream.”