A Dream Shattered

A Dream Shattered

With the weight of a nation borne on her tiny shoulders, Elaine Tanner was Canada’s singular hope to bring home the gold medal at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Having reached the apex of swimming at the ripe old age of 17 with 5 World Records and numerous International Titles to her name, Elaine was the overwhelming favourite in the 100 and 200 M Backstrokes.   

However her fate was not to be written as all had predicted.  In a mere minute and seven seconds her Olympic dream and those of a nation would be dashed forever. Despite returning with 3 of the 5 medals earned in total by Canada’s Olympic Team the fact that none of them were Gold eliminated any heroic welcome for her. Rather she faced headlines which read “Tanner Loses Gold” and microphones shoved into her face with the scathing question of “Why did you lose?”

Her family weren’t that much better either.  They automatically responded with the unwritten law of their family which was “The Conspiracy of Silence” where the truth was better buried than dealt with. Nothing could disturb the well-polished family veneer least of all any emotional weakness or fragility.

With no immediate life line to hold onto or empathetic ear to hear her inner cries for help, her fall from grace began. Emotionally crippled and in silent pain, Elaine’s downward spiral dragged her into many forays into the psychological wilderness desperately trying to seek refuge for her wounded soul. 

From an early marriage, parenthood and a devastating divorce costing her custody of her two children, Elaine’s losses only escalated through the ensuing years. Deteriorating financially and emotionally into depression, years of unemployment, eating disorders and anxiety attacks brought on by the various symptoms of undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder.  Eventually her downward emotional spiral led her to complete estrangement from her family, isolation and financial ruin.

In the spring of 1988 Elaine found herself alone and virtually penniless on the mean streets of Vancouver with only her old Station Wagon, a few suitcases and her now tarnished and soiled Olympic medals tucked into her Grandmothers threadbare sewing basket.

With her childhood dreams gone and her never ending nightmare far too real and painful to bear, Elaine gazed out over the cold jagged rocks on the shores of the Pacific Ocean which was once her playground and contemplated ending her sad legacy. Having failed to meet other’s expectations and falling from such heights getting back up can be a long and arduous road.

But this is where her ”Quest Beyond Gold“ truly begins…  It is a path paved with lessons, tears, laughter, wisdom and humility.

“ It is a road we are all on and I know she would love to have you join her…”