The Olympian in the Bathroom

Sometimes the unexpected happens – like yesterday when I was chatting with the business owner across the hall from our office. One of her clients was there and had just slipped off to use the facilities. She looked at me and then nodded towards her client’s bag that was resting on the chair. “There are two Olympic medals in there.”

“What do you mean?” It’s not every day you hear that phrase.

“There are two Olympic medals in that bag. Right now.”

“You mean, like, from PyeongChang?”


“Does that mean there’s an Olympian in the bathroom?” I was still focused on the medals, but able to figure out that if there were two Olympic medals in that bag, that there must be an Olympian nearby.  She told me who it was – and since I didn’t ask the Olympian if I could write about her, I’ll respect her privacy. Sorry.

The Olympian appeared and I became star struck and said idiotic things like, “Do you think the gold medals are really made out of gold?” *  (This is why I should never meet important people – especially when I’m unprepared.) So, the business owner said to the Olympian, “Can we see your medals again? I was just telling Kate about them.” The Olympian pulls them out and puts them in my hands. They are as big as saucers and very heavy. Like 5 lbs heavy, maybe more. And I’m looking at them and I am in awe of what this woman has accomplished. And every other athlete who competes at an international level outside of big-league sports.

That night at dinner, I told my kids about my experience and what a thrill it was to hold these medals. My daughter said, “Why is it such a big deal? You didn’t win those medals.”

“Because I can appreciate the amount of training, effort, and sacrifices this woman made to get to where she is. Her medals are symbols of her achievements.”

“Well, what’s she doing with them in her bag, walking around the city?”

Yeesh. My kids and practical questions. I didn’t know the answer – I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to ask that question. Instead, I just took them in, asked the Olympian about the venue, the event, and life during the two weeks they were there and admired her tenacity and drive that led her to the top of her sport.


* This is quite possibly the dumbest question I could have asked. I was holding the medal and feeling its weight when I said it. At $1300/oz. a 5 lb medal would cost approximately C$104,000. -however, I did find out that  each gold medal contains 6 grams of gold.


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