Honest Groves won't sell soul

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:16 AM ET

Mostly, they sit in a drawer in her Calgary home, in spite of the pleas she sometimes hears to show them off with a little more fanfare.

But if you're waiting for Kristina Groves to wildly flaunt the two speed-skating silver medals she brought home from the Turin Winter Olympics ... well, you don't know her very well.

"I've had people say to me 'I thought you'd be wearing your medals all the time,' " the 29-year-old Ottawa native said with a laugh earlier this week. "But that's so not my style. It's not being very humble.

"It's just not me."

Make no mistake about it, though. Groves very much understands why so many Canadians get so wide-eyed when she brings the medals to any public gathering. She happily shares them with anyone who wants to touch them, not the least bit worried about the scratches and little dings they've accumulated in the weeks and months that have passed since her glorious time in Italy.

"A lot of people like to see them, because they understand how hard it is to get one," said Groves.

To her, they are a symbol of a lifetime's worth of work and sacrifice to reach the ultimate sporting goal. The thought of using them as currency toward a life filled with riches is far less palatable.

"It's nice to be able to save for the future, but I don't necessarily want to exploit this," said Groves. "Some people think I'm crazy for thinking that way ... but I have a pretty comfortable lifestyle out here. I'm not out there trying to make a million dollars."

While teammate Cindy Klassen, the five-medal star of the Games for Canada, is set for life with post-Turin endorsements, Groves contents herself with public speaking engagements that pay her a few thousand dollars here and there.

She almost seems embarrassed that she has signed on with Agenda Sports Marketing, an agency in Calgary that also represents Olympic medallists Beckie Scott, Duff Gibson and Mellisa Hollingsworth-Richards. But it is the right kind of group for her -- a small outfit that ensures "I don't do anything I don't want to do."

"It's a fine line between doing something because you love it, or because you want to make a crap-load of money. I always worry 'am I selling my soul?' ... I want to be honest and genuine about it."

The purity of that sentiment is also at the forefront of her reasons for making the Vancouver 2010 Olympics the final stop for her on the speed-skating oval. It isn't about going out in a blaze of glory on home soil.

"I'd be lying if I said (a Games in Canada) didn't play a factor," said Groves, who'll be 33 in Vancouver. "But I really love the sport and I still feel like I can be better at it. That's what drives me.

"I want to see how good I can be."

SHE'S STILL THE ONE: With her fourth World Cup triumph of the season, Sherraine Schalm-MacKay cemented her status as the world's No. 1 women's epee fencer. For the third time, Schalm-MacKay, a University of Ottawa grad, bested German archrival Imke Duplitzer in a final, this time at the Sydney Challenge Grand Prix in Australia. "I knew I needed the points to crawl back to No. 1 in the world, and I love fencing under pressure," Schalm-MacKay said after her 15-12 win.

GOLDEN STEP: With a remarkable finishing flurry, Canada's K-4 boat won the men's 1,000 metres last weekend at a World Cup canoe-kayak event in Duisburg, Germany. It was a major breakthrough for the crew, which included Athens Olympians Andrew Willows of Gananoque and Ryan Cuthbert of Carleton Place. They were in second or third place for much of the race before edging Romania by 0.256 seconds at the finish line. "It's been a long, hard road for our men's K-4," said Graham Barton, CanoeKayak Canada's sprint high performance director. "This is a step in the right direction."

WATER POLO WONDERS: Hull's Marie Chantal Patry-Proulx and Nicole Moquin of Ottawa have earned spots on the Canadian junior women's water polo team, which will contest the Pan American junior championships Aug. 5-14 in Montreal. The men's selection pool still includes Hull's Fedja Avija, Dusko Dasic, Bojan Glisic, Jean-Francois Jacques, Stefan Pavicevic and Marc-Antoine Tanguay.

AROUND THE AMATEUR SCENE: Two local minor hockey coaches, Kerry Dagenais and Dave Johnson of the Ottawa-Carleton Sledge Hockey and Ice Picking Association, were recently presented with Timex Community Coach of the Year awards by Hockey Canada ... Stittsville's Matt Hawes scored a big victory Friday night at the Mel Zajac Jr. international swim meet in Vancouver. The Nepean Kanata Barracudas swimmer upset Canadian record holder Keith Beavers of Waterloo to win the men's 200-metre backstroke ... Ottawa Fury U-20 striker Samuel Maheu has landed a soccer scholarship at St. Bonaventure University in New York.

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


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