Push on for Vancouver

ALISON KORN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

Amanda Overland has an Olympic silver medal, a surgically repaired hip, and a complete lack of a tan.

With short-track speed skating Olympic trials starting Sunday at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum, the summer of 2009 includes no lazy vacation plans for Overland and her peers. On a rare day off last month, she stayed inside her Montreal apartment forcing herself to rest.

"I'm as white as can be right now," Overland said laughing. "I wish I could be out in the sun. (But) I'm excited to be in my house right now just chilling because it's a rest day, and I know tomorrow I'm going to work my butt off."

Overland, 27, is from Kitchener one of two anglophones on the short-track team based in Montreal. She doesn't get home much to see her boyfriend or family. Instead, her days revolve around two-a-day workouts, with just one day or a half-day off per week, with the goal of securing a spot on the 2010 Olympic team.

After winning an Olympic silver in the 3,000-metre relay in Turin in 2006, Overland knows what it takes to perform. And if that means ignoring the fact that regular folks are out camping or cottaging these days, she's happy to.

"A year like this year, you definitely lose your summer," Overland said. "At the end of the day, you appreciate it for what it is, though. You love your sport, you love what you're doing."

These days, Overland probably appreciates what she's doing more than ever, as she spent last winter recovering from hip surgery in October for an overuse injury. Using first crutches and then a cane, physiotherapy was her daily focus as she built herself up to return to skating three months after surgery. Her first day back on ice felt unfamiliar.

"I felt a bit like Bambi, let's put it that way," Overland said. "But I got control. It has been tough, but I've been mentally strong. I push myself through."

Now Overland is ready to challenge for one of the five women's spots on the 2010 team. So far, only Charles Hamelin, who finished third overall with his cumulative point total at this year's world championships, has made the team.

That means 32 short-trackers will jostle for the nine remaining places -- five women and four men. The selection process runs until Aug. 18 with skaters racing three times in each of the sport's individual distances (500 metres, 1,000 metres and 1,500 metres) at the venue that will be used for the 2010 Olympic short-track competition.

Overland forked over $5,000 for her hip surgery, done privately in Montreal. She credits sponsors such as General Mills for helping her extend her career this far. She expects to retire next year and hit the books at university.

"I'm coming to the end of my career," Overland said. "I have to put 150% in to this, and I did. It was worth it. I'm strong. I'm giving all the young girls on the team a run for their money."

Speed-skating oval

The Ontario Speed Skating Oval invites you to join two-time Olympic speed skating champion Catriona Le May Doan at the Wildfire Golf Course Sept. 14. Le May Doan is the honorary capital campaign chair for the new outdoor long track oval in Lakefield, near Peterborough. The project has raised $4 million locally and needs an additional $8 million from the province and feds to complete construction. An Ontario oval would complement the country's long track facilities in Calgary and Ste-Foy, Que., allowing promising athletes in Ontario the opportunity to train while staying close to home. For more information visit www.ontariospeedskatingoval.com.

-- with files from Canadian Press


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