November 10, 2021

No such thing as a bad practice: takeaways from Gold Medal Olympian Damian Warner

November 10, 2021 – Digital Health Canada’s Driving the Future of Digital Health Virtual Conference on Tuesday, November 2, closed with an inspiring chat with Canadian Gold Medal Olympian Damian Warner and Gar Leyshon, his coach of more than 20 years.

In their session, Damian Warner and Gar Leyshon took us on a journey deep into the moments leading up to winning the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon at Tokyo 2020. Damian and Gar have been working together for more than 20 years, through ups and downs, since they met as high-school basketball player and coach in London, Ontario. Track and field was not their sport of choice, but Gar convinced Damian to try—he needed students to compete in some of the events. It was at one of these early events that Gar saw some something special in Damian that grew over time into Damian setting the goal to be an Olympic champion for Canada.

Leading up to the 2020 Olympics, COVID-19 really threw a wrench into Damian’s training plans. Damian and his trainers had to really pull together as a team and think outside the box to produce a totally new plan for training. This led to creating a training facility in an abandoned hockey arena; it took a lot of experimentation and innovation to transform the space into a suitable decathlon training ground, and their journey parallels the grit, perseverance, and experimentation that healthcare delivery teams faced in handling the pandemic.

Damien works in a team environment while training for the complex event that is the decathlon (in addition to being the 2020 Olympic Champion, Damien is a three-time Canadian World medalist). Damian spoke to how sometimes it can feel as though success happens overnight, but the truth is that the start of success happens years before it shows.

Sometimes we may not have the best tools at hand or carry things out in a way we had envisioned, but extraordinary things can happen when we come together as a team and work towards a common goal. And above all else, remembering to pull our heads out of the trenches for those that matter most; for Damien, it was his new son Theo, and for each of us we have loved ones that rely on the important work we do.

Inspiring take-aways:

“There is no such thing as a bad practice,” – Coach Gar Leyshon

“What can we learn? If we pose situations as a negative, we walk toward what we can achieve through a positive manner,” – Damian Warner