Cheryl Ann Johnson Knight, mom of Olympian Doug Erasmus totally gripped my attention with her Facebook entry about their journey to reach a dream. Her cup clearly overflows, wave after wave with gratefulness towards EACH AND EVERY PERSON on their Olympic Journey to the top. Yes mommy, you were there to pick him back up in times of disappointment and hurt. You were there to celebrate his precious victories. You were there to teach him the big and small lessons in life, lessons in character, in determination, in commitment and in love, these all add up to define a champion.
“I have just got off the Roller Coaster, attending our 11th Nationals as “Team Doug” this has to be one of the most emotionally draining weeks of all time. I have sat and watched with a smile how the newbie’s to nationals have come up to Doug and got their cards signed by him and to do the task that they were given – get a hug from him, do a face swop with him (selfies are now apparently outdated) and the memory of 11 years ago come flooding back, Doug’s first nationals at this very pool, one of his tasks was to get Penny Heyns to sign his card.
Boy have we travelled a journey since then. It’s been one helluva ride, and what a privilege to have been able to travel this journey with my son, to see him achieve his ultimate dream, to get to the Olympics. This week has had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows… I have sat and watched parents so overcome with emotion when their son just missed the qualifying time by one hundredth of a second and those same parents 2 nights later celebrate so ecstatically when he qualified in an event that was totally unexpected and I have shed a tear with them, I have watched a grandfather try and keep his tears in check while he consoled his granddaughter because her plan never worked out. The disappointment on a swimmers face when they haven’t made it is heart breaking to say the least.
Having experienced the same heartbreak on Thursday evening when Doug’s 100 free didn’t go according to plan, how as a swim mom do you hold on to your composure – tomorrow is another day, a new race, a new plan and wow, what a plan that was, to qualify for the Olympics in the heats session.
We are so very proud to have been able to be part of Doug’s support system, not only here at Nationals, but all year round year in and year out … by the whole family – a journey 13 years in the making, starting with his first galas at school, to the parent who at his first Inter High asked me who Doug was coaching with and my answer was that he didn’t have a coach and I was told by that same parent to get him to a coach – I wish I knew your name that night – I did it, I became a swim mom.
Thank you are not words that are big enough to say to Team Doug’s family – Moms, Dads, Grans, Sister, Brother in Law, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Doug’s 2 other mothers, Jill Williams and Gail Dalton – I thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening to me go on about galas, physc sheets, times, starts and turns (I promise, I will get another hobby) – we are indebted to you. Liz Woodin, Edna Douglas and Colin Douglas at CBC Boksburg – who encouraged Doug at school swimming level, to Glenn Keevy and Milka Keevy Doug’s first swimming club Swift Swimming – your unwavering support of Doug is so very much valued and appreciated
To the team from Eastern Aquatics – where it all began, thank you for your cheering and support this week it is much appreciated, Roland Schoeman a true champion, Role Model and Mentor to Doug, THANK YOU, for taking Doug under your wing, to Jason Arthur Lawson – what an amazing friend you have turned out to be and last but not least, the Tuks Aquatics family, Igor and Irene, Magdalein, Andrea and the rest of the team THANK YOU – your support of Doug has been incredible. Doug – you have done us all proud – your incredible hard work, guts and determination has been rewarded. Thank you for making me a swim mom – what an honour”.