It has been two months since the Olympic Games have ended. I have had some time to process the end of a phenomenal and emotional “Olympic experience,” and to celebrate everything I have accomplished in the sport of wrestling.

My Olympic journey did not begin in December 2015, when I made the Olympic team, but 13 years prior when I began wrestling at Deer Meadow.

I became a full-time, single sport athlete in the fall of 2008 when I moved to Vancouver to wrestle for Simon Fraser University. It was at this time that I began working every day towards my Olympic dream.

Making the Olympic team required unwavering focus and commitment to becoming a better athlete and wrestler every single day over these eight years.

The whirlwind of making the team and experiencing the preparation and atmosphere at the Olympic Games was surreal, and (despite suffering an injury in warmup that prevented me from competing), it was, by far the best experience of my life.

I have given it a lot of thought, and have not yet decided if I am going to commit to another Olympic cycle (four more years).

Before making this decision, I have to ensure that I am willing to commit the time and energy I know is necessary to be successful at this level.

As long as I am healthy, able, and continue to love to train and compete I will do so; however, for now I have to focus on recovering from my injury. What I do know for sure is that I love wrestling and I am not ready to quit the sport yet.

My coach in Burnaby has become someone I have come to love, and trust wholeheartedly.

When I asked if he thought I should retire from the sport, he said he would support my decision whatever it may be. He added: “I actually sincerely hope that you continue to wrestle! I think you did a lot of things right and well leading up to Rio and would love you to have the results those preparations deserve!”

I am currently recovering from my hamstring injury, which I have learned is going to be a very long and emotional battle. However, I have finally found the energy, motivation and positivity to direct all of my energy to this rehab process, and the journey back to optimal mental and physical heath.

I want to now say THANK YOU. Thank you again to EVERYONE from Olds. I would like to thank you all in person, but if our paths do not cross in the near future, I wanted to provide you with the thanks you all so rightly deserve.

Thank you all for the involvement in my fundraising, the donations and your time, for your financial assistance, for your cheers and unwavering support, and for your loyalty and love leading up to, and after the Games.

To everyone who financially supported me -- thank you so, so, so much. I know that all of you have worked hard for your money, and I also know times are tough in Alberta right now.

I am so thankful for every dollar I was given and am so appreciative of your generosity. I wouldn’t have been able to go on this journey or prepare as I did if it wasn't for your donations.

To everyone who donated to my Go Fund Me Page -- thank you from the bottom of my heart. After reading all the comments and seeing all the donations, I was blown away by how many people, and which people from Olds supported me through this means.

To the Olds bowling alley, the Richardsons, to everyone who bought tickets, beers, or shirts at my fundraiser in April, and to those who donated or bought items at the event -- THANK YOU. This night was one of the best of the year for me!

To be able to see, in person, all the support and love from everyone in Olds in one location was absolutely incredible. The time and money invested by so many people to make this event such a success was unbelievable; I still can’t believe it. I am thankful for all of you!

Thank you to the Town of Olds and Mayor Judy Dahl for your involvement in creating the best town in the world, for believing in me, donating to me, and making me feel so special on my Olympic journey.

Thank you to the Olds Albertan, for their role in sharing my entire Olympic experience and telling my story so well from start to finish!

Thank you to everyone who got up at 7 a.m. to watch me compete. Thank you to the Mayfair Cinema for streaming my match on Aug. 18 – and for everyone who got up way too early to come watch me on the big screen. (On an unrelated note -- thank you also to Mayfair Cinema for having the best popcorn in the world).

Special and enormous thank yous go to my family and friends, the Richardsons, Ted, the DeLong family, the Gatez family, and Olds High School. Thank you each for being huge and necessary parts of my “Road to Rio.”

You all made the last year possible for me, and I sincerely love you guys so much. Thank you for your love, generosity, and excitement -- not just in the last year but in the decades and years leading up to this huge moment in my life.

It truly took a whole community to make this Olympic Dream possible. Thank you so much Olds. I am forever indebted to you.


Danielle Lappage