Ponoka Elementary adopts Olympic speed skater

PES students, dressed in red, were given a special visit Nov. 18 from 21-year-old Jessica Gregg, an Edmontonian on her way to the Vancouver 2010 Olypmics

Jessica Gregg

Jessica Gregg

By Jasmine Franklin

“Go Jessica go,” Ponoka Elementary students chanted. “Go Jessica go!”

PES students, dressed in red, were given a special visit Nov. 18 from 21-year-old Jessica Gregg, an Edmontonian on her way to the Vancouver 2010 Olypmics.

“Everyone needs to make stepping stones to achieve your goals,” Gregg said. “Enjoy what you do, and do it because it’s fun.”

Gregg has been “adopted” by the school through the national “Adopt an Athlete” program. With the program, the schools raise funds for training and in exchange, students are updated on the Olympian’s journey through emails and learn to contribute to their communities at an early age.

“My dream goal has always been to reach the Olympics from the time I was a little girl,” Gregg said. “I fell in love with the sport — the competition, the speed and the travelling.”

With her record time of 43.29 seconds for 500 metres in short-track speed skating, this Albertan speed skater started comes from a long line of Olympic athletes.

Her mom, Kathy Gregg, went to the Olympics in 1976 and 1980 in long-track speed skating, and her father, Randy, played on the Canadian Olympic hockey team in 1980 where her parents met. Her father went on to play for the Edmonton Oilers.

But Gregg began her speed skating career at age five in Edmonton. As she grew older she began skating locally, eventually moved up to competing around the province. By age 13 she was competing across Canada and at 16 made the junior short track team, travelling to Serbia where she won a bronze medal in the 500 metre race.

Her days are consumed with ice and speed.

Training twice a day, six days per week this young athlete tries to lead a balanced life while obtaining her studies in kinesiology at the University of Calgary.

But the winter of 2010 will mark an important part of this young woman’s life. She will follow in the footsteps of her Olympic family while try to break her way through to the top.

“I was kind of expecting to go,” Gregg said. “I was ranked first in Canada, but it was still a huge surprise and honor.”

Students at the school felt just as honored to have Gregg in their gymnasium. After a question and answer period between Gregg and classroom representatives, it was discovered her favorite store is Lululemon and she sharpens her skates before every run.

The school presented Gregg with a Team Canada shirt and will continue to fundraise to support her.

Gregg is expected to return to the school after her Olympic experience.