From a chronic injury, to a heartbreaking last-place performance at the London Olympics, to a diagnosis of anemia that knocked her out of the world championships, Paula Findlay has had one rough year.
Then last week, the 23-year-old triathlete from Edmonton revealed on her blog that her dad Max is battling cancer.
But rather than look at it as more horrible news in a what-else-can-go-wrong kind of season, Findlay said her dad's illness has helped her put everything in perspective.
"As hard as I've had it this past year, I haven't had it that bad compared to a lot of people, with all the recent events that have happened, the hurricane in New York, and the Lance Armstrong situation and my dad being sick. . . there's lots of people who have had it a lot worse off than me," Findlay told The Canadian Press in a phone interview from California.
The former world No. 1 triathlete came in last at the London Olympics, and the image of the sobbing redhead limping across the finish line will be one of the most enduring of the Games.
STORY CONTINUES AFTER GALLERY..
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Because of a hip injury that had plagued her for a year, she'd only had six solid weeks of training before London.
After coming home, blood work showed she was anemic, forcing her to withdraw from the world championships in New Zealand.
Last week, her dad underwent surgery for colon cancer.
"I don't have any regrets about the past year, I'm very very lucky to have been a part of the Canadian Olympic team and it's a lot of hard work, but coming last at the Olympics is not the worst thing that can happen to you,"Findlay said.
"Although it's disappointing and I put so much into it — and that's the reason it's so disappointing — learning from it and moving forward is important and I'm doing OK with that and having to put it in perspective for my dad has helped with that as well."
Findlay said her "very stubborn and determined" dad is doing well. He was home from the hospital four days earlier than expected and is up and walking and eating solid food.
In her recent blog entry — "When the going gets rough" — Findlay wrote "He's showed that optimism and positivity are powerful tools when the going gets rough."
While her father recuperates, Findlay travelled to Morgan Hill, Calif., this week to be fitted with a new Specialized bike. Technicians gave her a bigger frame and adjusted the handle bars and pedals to help combat the hip injury that sidelined her for so much of last season.
"You're pedalling so many revolutions, thousands and thousands of pedal strokes daily, so if you're a little bit off in your positioning or something is not quite right, it can make a huge difference over that many pedal strokes," Findlay explained. "Small changes you might not feel right away but over the long term and over hundreds and hundreds of rides and miles, it all adds up and your body can feel the impact of it if it's not quite right."
Findlay also has a new coach in Joel Filliol, former coach of Olympic champion Simon Whitfield and former head coach of the British team.
The two will be based out of Victoria, but will spend much of the winter doing warm-weather training in Arizona and Florida.
Findlay said while it's not an overnight fix, she's getting a handle on the anemia that is common in female endurance athletes. She's monitoring her diet and taking supplements.
"Although it's better now it's not fixed or anything," she said. "It's something I'll constantly need to monitor probably for the rest of my triathlon career."
She's taking a patient approach to competing, saying she might not race again until April or May, or even as late as June. The focus for these next few months, she said, is getting strong and healthy, and rebuilding her confidence.
She hopes to make a triumphant return to the London Olympic course next September for the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final, which she admits won't be easy after her experiences there.
Findlay was touted as a Canadian medal hope for months leading into London, but many obviously were unaware of the severity of her injury.
"But it was never a negative thing, it only became a little bit difficult when I was approaching the Olympics still not able to run and yet I was still on cereal boxes and on ads with the COC (Canadian Olympic Committee)," Findlay said. "But honestly it helped me get through it a little bit, it reminded me that I can do it and I had done it in the past and people believe in me. It was a constant reminder that I was on top and I could get back there."
When she logged onto her Facebook account after the race, Findlay said she had hundreds of messages of support. She said she still gets comments from strangers.
"It was surprising and unexpected," Findlay said. "I didn't want the sympathy, the 'Oh we're so proud of you, you're such an inspiration.' It's a little bit hard to respond to that because they don't see the behind-the-scenes work to get there.
"They only see that two-hour race when I'm finishing in tears and might look like a hero but I certainly didn't feel like that, that's why I wasn't expecting the outpouring of support."
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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)