Caroline Ehrhardt honours her late dad by chasing Olympic triple jump dream


The black rubber ground in Caroline Ehrhardt’s residence health club is lovingly worn. Each scuff in her “Shred Shed” is a reminiscence.

When Ehrhardt and her fiance Taylor Stewart purchased their London, Ont., residence final 12 months, and constructed a health club of their shed, the flooring they laid got here from Ehrhardt’s childhood residence. 

Ehrhardt’s dad Klaus had constructed his athletic daughter a triple jump pit of their massive yard in Espanola, Ont., and it is the place she’d spend as much as three hours most nights from Grade eight by way of Grade 12. He ordered the 30-metre runway on-line from the U.S. It arrived in rolls of rubber, a half-inch thick. He dug the pit with a Bobcat.

And so when Klaus died all of the sudden of a coronary heart assault final summer time, two days after Ehrhardt gained her sixth Canadian triple jump title — her seventh got here final month in Ottawa —she pulled up that outdated runway to put as the ground of their health club.

The white takeoff boards he’d painted — there are a number of, as Ehrhardt continued to enhance — are pale from the “hundreds and hundreds of jumps I did on it.

“Took some sand too. I’d have taken the entire [pit] if I may,” Ehrhardt stated.

The 26-year-old will jump on the NACAC championships this weekend in Toronto to finish one of many hardest seasons of her profession. Coaching has at all times been her “completely satisfied place,” the place she’d discovered solace first from shedding her mother Judy to breast most cancers in elementary college, after which her dad final summer time.

However she’s been battling extreme patellar tendinitis in a single knee. And her dad’s not right here to assist see her by way of it.

“Not solely is [training] the place the place I really feel closest to my dad, the place I really feel like I can overlook concerning the stress of my life, however when my damage was at its worst and I believed my season was completed, that’s one thing I thought of on a regular basis, I used to be like ‘Oh my gosh, if I believe that is unhealthy … I’ve been by way of hell, I can get by way of this no downside.’

“That’s I suppose the silver lining of all of this. I do not wish to jinx it however I do not suppose there’s an entire lot life can throw my approach that would really break my spirit,” she stated. “As a result of I’ve made it by way of simply concerning the worst factor anybody can ever actually expertise.”

Dad joins younger daughter in monitor

Ehrhardt joined a monitor membership in Sudbury in Grade 5, three weeks earlier than her mother’s loss of life. Since her dad was making the hour drive to follow 3 times per week anyway, he determined to hitch the membership too.

“[My parents] wished to place me in one thing that I may immerse myself in and form of keep completely satisfied and preserve setting targets,” Ehrhardt stated. “It was good timing for certain to get entangled with the game, for each my dad and I.”

Klaus’s ardour for working noticed him run three Boston Marathons, and so his loss of life at age 68 was a shock. He died barely per week earlier than Ehrhardt and Stewart left for the Ivory Coast for the Francophone Video games.

“I knew it was one thing I nonetheless needed to do for him, he had at all times been such a supporter all through my profession, he would really feel crushed if he knew someway he technically prevented me from having that nationwide crew expertise,” Ehrhardt stated. “I knew that I nonetheless wished to go. I simply wasn’t precisely certain how I used to be going to go. It was arduous to even get away from bed within the morning not to mention practice or really feel motivated sufficient to be aggressive on the world stage.”

Ehrhardt competed on what would have been her dad’s 69th birthday. 4 of her jumps have been private bests, every jump consecutively farther than the one earlier than. She gained gold with a jump of 13.83 metres. If it hadn’t been wind-aided — any tail wind that is two metres per second or stronger cannot depend for nationwide information or requirements — it might have been an enormous private finest. It additionally put her near the Canadian file of 13.99.

Emotional atop podiums

A heartbreaking photograph captured Ehrhardt on the medal podium, eyes trying up, her face twisted in ache.

“That was an unbelievable expertise and it was arduous. It is such a spectrum of feelings,” she stated. “I used to be so ecstatic to have jumped practically 14 metres. However on the similar time, there’s that disclaimer at the back of your head of ‘Oh yeah, that is my actuality now. I haven’t got any dad and mom,”‘ she stated. “That is one thing I’ve needed to work by way of this previous 12 months is studying to have these completely satisfied excited moments, to not having that little reminder at the back of my head on a regular basis.

“It is undoubtedly been a transition 12 months of form of accepting all the pieces how it’s now.”

Final week, Ehrhardt matched her finest jump of 13.83, though it was barely wind-aided once more. Vickie Croley, who splits Ehrhardt’s teaching duties with Frank Erle, stated practices point out a jump close to the Canadian file — Tabia Charles set the mark in 2010 — is inside attain.

“I imagine she could be very able to leaping over 14 metres,” Croley stated.

Olympics the following hurdle to cross

No girl has ever represented Canada on the Olympics in triple jump.

Ehrhardt would like to be the primary. When she briefly questioned her future within the sport after graduating from College of Western Ontario, her dad set her straight.

“I’ve cherished cherished cherished this sport for so long as I can keep in mind … my dad spoke to the purpose the place there is a restricted window of alternative to be a world-class athlete. I can return to high school at any time, I can begin a household later.

“If it makes me completely satisfied then what is the hurt in persevering with? When one other 12 months goes by with out funding [she makes a living partly from speaking engagements], or one other 12 months goes by with no main nationwide crew, I like this, and I do imagine that if anybody’s going to do it, why cannot or not it’s me? And that is simply one thing I carry with me.”

Ehrhardt and Stewart, a decathlete, are getting married in October. Ehrhardt’s older sisters Jackie and Katie will stroll her down the aisle.

The NACAC championships are Aug. 10-12 at College of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium.



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