Many Canadians may wonder why triathlete Paula Findlay felt she had to apologize for her heart-wrenching last-place finish at the London Olympics.
Not Mellisa Hollingsworth.
Two years ago, she was in the same position as Findlay, carrying heavy Olympic expectations for Canada only to fall short. A mistimed corner turned a potential gold-medal performance by the skeleton slider into a fifth-place finish. In the emotional moments that followed, all she could do was say sorry.
At the time, Hollingsworth said she felt like she had let Canadians down.
"It's one of those things as an athlete you train your whole life for," she said in an interview Saturday night. "When you don't reach your potential and you make a mistake, you feel bad. That's how you got to be on the Olympic stage — it's because you are a perfectionist and you want to be the absolute best and you're good enough to be the absolute best.
"That's why you're so critical of yourself in those big moments, especially the Olympics when the emotions are so high anyhow."
Tears flowed from behind Findlay's wraparound sunglasses as she crossed the finish line Saturday, some 12 minutes behind the winner.
A hip injury had kept the 23-year-old Edmonton native from entering pre-Olympic races but never in her wildest dreams did she expect her race to be such a disaster. Findlay, once ranked No. 1 in the world, mouthed the words "I'm sorry" while finishing.
"I'm so sorry to everyone in Canada," she repeated during her post-race interview.
Findlay still felt apologetic the day after her race.
"I know how much time and money was invested in me and I wanted to make people proud," Findlay explained Sunday. "I know the sacrifices people made. (My race) was in the middle of the night at home and people stayed up to watch me.
"'Sorry' might be the wrong word but I was just so sad and that's what came out and that was the truth. It was what I felt in the moment and still what I feel. I was interviewed two minutes after I crossed the finish line so whatever I said was honest and what I was feeling in that moment."
Findlay says her e-mail and Twitter account exploded with people telling her she didn't need to apologize. Her teammate Simon Whitfield agreed with them.
"She's apologizing. It's so sad," he said. "She has nothing to apologize for. What courage she had in the last year to get to the start line, it's amazing.
"It's a lot of pressure and we care deeply how we do."
Findlay and Hollingsworth aren't the only athletes to apologize to Canadians after disappointing Olympic results.
Boxer Mike Strange delivered a heartfelt apology to his hometown of Niagara Falls, Ont., after getting beat in the quarter-finals at the 1996 Games in Atlanta while Canadian coxswain Brian Price said he felt like he let "everybody down" when the men's eight rowing crew finished fifth in Athens in 2004.
At the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, kayaker Adam van Koeverden said all he had was an apology after finishing a shocking eighth in an event he was favoured to win.
Hollingsworth's heartbreaking moment came on home soil in Whistler. One of the top Canadian medal favourites entering the 2010 Olympics, she felt as though she let the "entire country down" after crashing heavily into the wall on a turn.
Her post-race apology touched a nerve across the country. Cards, letters and emails started pouring in immediately afterwards.
"It was amazing how Canada chose to be so compassionate when they saw that I made a mistake," said Hollingsworth.
"I don't regret apologizing even though pretty much every Canadian who has reached out to me said 'Don't apologize,"' she added.
On Saturday, Hollingsworth had a chance to return some of that goodwill. Triathlon press officer Chris Dornan worked with Hollingsworth during the 2010 Games and brought Findlay's comments to her attention because they sounded so much like her own.
Even though the two have never met, Hollingsworth sent Findlay an email "right away."
"What I said to her was: 'This is sad and this is disappointing, of course. But honestly it's these times that make us tougher and at some point in time, whenever that is, you will look back and realize I needed to go through that,"' said Hollingsworth. "I needed that type of experience so that I could gain perspective.
"Whether she continues to go on in her Olympic career or whatever path she chooses after this, nothing else will be near as heart-wrenching and hard as that."
Said Findlay: "To hear from her was very cool."
In Hollingworth's case, she has elected to go on.
The 31-year-old from Eckville, Alta., plans to compete in skeleton at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia and has started competing professionally in rodeo during the summer. Earlier this year, she even won a World Cup event at the same Whistler track where her Olympic dreams were dashed.
She now views that heartbreak as a defining moment in her life.
"As an athlete, I think it matured me. As a person, it matured me," said Hollingsworth. "I'm actually glad that it happened now that I look back on it. With everything that I've learned from it, I wouldn't change it."
One day, Findlay might know exactly how she feels.
— Donna Spencer contributed to this report.
Christine Sinclair carried the flag for Canada and the hosts staged another star-studded show to close off the London Games.
Canada's athletes celebrate at the Olympic Closing Ceremony. (Frank Gunn/CP)
Christine Sinclair carries the flag for Canada at the Olympic Closing Ceremony. (CP/Frank Gunn)
British band 'The Spice Girls' perform during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Posh At The Games
Victoria Beckham performs as Posh Spice with British band The Spice Girls during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Strut Their Stuff
British model Naomi Campbell, fourth right, walks with other models during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Still Got It
Brian May, guitarist of the British rock band Queen, performs during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Baby, You're A Firework
Fireworks explode over the Olympic Stadium at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
The Olympic flag is handed over to the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the host of the 2016 Olympic Games. (AP)
Soak It All In
French athletes sit and watch as the Olympic Closing Ceremony come to a close. (AP)
An athlete holds up the British flag during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
And after 16 days or winning, losing, scoring and missing, the London Games have come to an end. Canada's medal count remained at 18, while the U.S. would go on to to win a gold in men's basketball. Russia defeated Brazil in men's volleyball to take home a gold and the Italian men's water polo team fell to their Croatian counterparts to secure a silver medal.
Spain's Got Game
Spain's Sergio Llull reacts during the men's gold medal basketball game against USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Kiss The Podium
Members of the gold medallist team from Russia kiss the podium during the rhythmic gymnastics group all-around final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Alekno's In The Air
Members of team Russia lift their coach, Vladimir Alekno, into the air after defeating Brazil in a men's gold medal volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Right Jab To the Face
Russia's Egor Mekhontcev, right, fights Kazakhstan's Adilbek Niyazymbetov in a light heavyweight 81-kg gold medal boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. Mekhontcev won the gold and Niyazymbetov won the silver.
Gold-medalist Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, left, competes with Kenya's bronze-medalist Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich, center, and silver-medalist Abel Kirui in the men's marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Pink And In Sync
The team from Russia performs during the rhythmic gymnastics group all-around final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Cuba's Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana reacts after being declared the winner over Mongolia's Tugstsogt Nyambayar in their flyweight 52-kg gold medal boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
Italy's Emanuele Birarelli (15) reacts following the final point of a 3-1 win over Bulgaria in the men's bronze medal volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
There's A Reason The Call Him King James
United States' LeBron James dunks during a men's gold medal basketball game against Spain at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London.
The Smell Of Sweet, Sweet Victory
Croatia's Ivan Buljubasic sniffs his flowers after receiving his gold medal at the men's water polo gold medal ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, in London. Croatia beat Italy 8-6 in the gold medal game.
Canada wins yet another bronze medal in men's K1 200m kayak event, and Mexico defeats Brazil for the gold medal in men's soccer. Canada had an another Olympic upset and lost the bronze medal in the 4x100 relay due to a disqualification. Jamaica set a world record.
Tearin' Up Our Hearts
Canada's Justyn Warner is comforted after the team was disqualified from third place in the men's 4x100-meter relay.
Jamaican Us Crazy
Jamaica's Usain Bolt reacts as he finishes ahead of United States' Ryan Bailey in the men's 4 x 100-meter relay.
Britain's Mo Farah kisses the track after winning gold in the men's 5000-meter final during the athletics.
Love On Top
Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan celebrates after he beat Jaime Yusept Espinal of Puerto Rico for the gold medal during the men's 84-kg freestyle wrestling competition.
Race Walk It Out
Russia's Elena Lashmanova celebrates winning the women's 50-kilometer race walk.
United States mb Foluke Akinradewo, left, and Destinee Hooker react during the women's gold medal volleyball match against Brazil.
Hwang Woojin, of South Korea, and his horse Shearwater Oscar, fall down after the horse bucked after the starting bell sounded to start their run in the equestrian show jumping stage of the men's modern pentathlon.
From left to right Spain's Elliot 6m crew Angela Pumariega, Sofia Toro Prieto, and Tamara Echegoyen celebrate after winning the gold medal at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, in Weymouth and Portland, England. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Mexico's Hector Herrera (6) and Mexico's Oribe Peralta (9) celebrate winning the gold medal with teammates in the men's soccer final against Brazil.
Bronze medallist Belarus' Liubou Charkashyna cries after a performance during the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final.
Gold Medal Ribbon
Russia's Daria Dmitrieva performs during the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final.
Settles For Seventh
Canada's Catharine Pendrel (2) competes in the Mountain Bike Cycling women's race.
Australia's Got Talent
Australia's Jared Tallent competes in the men's 50-kilometer race walk.
Jake Herbert of the United State competes against Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan (in blue) during the men's 120-kg freestyle wrestling competition.
Amro El Geziry of Egypt, left, and Nicholas Woodbridge of Great Britain swim the 200-meter freestyle during the swimming portion of the men's modern pentathlon.
Fencing Is Modern
Britain's Samuel Weale looks up during the fencing section of the men's modern pentathlon.
Canada wins another bronze in men's open-water marathon and placed 4th in synchronized swimming. U.S. women's team set a world record in the 4 x 100 relay and Bahamas beat the men's team in the last stretch of the race.
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius competes in the men's 4x400-meter relay final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium.
Bahamas' Ramon Miller beats United States' Angelo Taylor across the line to win the men's 4 x 400-meter relay.
France's Renaud Lavillenie clears the bar in the men's pole vault final during the athletics.
Kenya's Hellen Onsando Obiri leaps over United States' Morgan Uceny during the women's 1500-meter final during the athletics.
United States' Morgan Uceny reacts after falling during the women's 1500-meter final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa De Olza)
Throw It Up
South Korea's head coach Hong Myung-bo is hoisted up by his players after the team won their men's soccer bronze medal match.
They've Got The Beat
The team from Russia performs during the rhythmic gymnastics group all-around qualifications at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Bump, Set, Boom
Bulgaria's Viktor Yosifov (12) spikes home a point against Russia during a men's volleyball semifinal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Brazil's Squel Stein is carried off the field in a stretcher during a BMX cycling women's semifinal run at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. Stein fell off her bike after she landed on the grass following a big jump in the first half of the course. The 21-year-old Stein secured her best result in a major competition earlier this year when she reached the world championships final. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
The team from Russia competes during the synchronized swimming team free routine final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. Russia won the gold medal in the event. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Swimmers dive into the Serpentine to start the men's 10-kilometer marathon swimming competition in Hyde Park at the 2012 Summer Olympics Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)