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Surin family looking forward to Katherine's debut at Canada Summer Games

08/11/2013 07:00 EDT | Updated 10/11/2013 05:12 EDT
SHERBROOKE, Que. - Bruny Surin has been to the Canada Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

But this time, it's different.

The gold medallist from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics is attending the Canada Summer Games, not just as an alum, but as the proud father of Katherine Surin, who is competing for Quebec in several athletic events including the 4x400 relay.

"I'm looking forward to it, I'm going to go with her sister and my wife is going to be there," said Surin. "All the Surins are going to be in Sherbrooke."

Surin has a wealth of experience at multi-sport events. He won gold for Canada in the 60-metre dash at the 1993 and 1995 world indoor championships, in the 4x100-metre relay at the world championships in 1995 and 1997 and, of course, he won the Olympic title in the 4x100 relay in 1996 with Donovan Bailey, Robert Esmie and Glenroy Gilbert.

With all that exposure to high-level competition, Surin told Katherine to keep it simple heading in to her first Canada Summer Games.

"He told me to focus, it's all about fun," said Katherine. "It's my first big competition, just have fun, don't put pressure on yourself. Perform at your best, do what you can to perform."

The elder Surin sees that simple approach as a vote of confidence in Katherine's skills as an athlete.

"You have everything, you can do your personal best," said Surin. "Just go there and do your best and have fun. That's the only thing I told her.

"I didn't tell her this-and-that technical stuff, you go there, I'll be there, have fun. That's it. Period."

However, when it comes to building a career as a high-performance athlete and Katherine's ongoing training, Bruny has been more direct.

"He tells me a lot to be serious, to always give my best. Even if it's hard, I should always continue, even if I'm tired," said Katherine. "One race and training could change everything, so I should always keep going. It's all about perseverance."

Katherine is actually a recent convert to high-level athletics. She grew up playing tennis with her older sister Kimberly, but decided around age 14 that she wanted to follow in her father's footsteps.

It came as no surprise to Bruny, who always knew his daughter loved to run.

"I remember since she was, I would say, five years old, she was telling me 'Dad, I want to go to a school where I can learn how to run,'" said Surin. "I was like 'Well, you're only five or six years old, you're too young' but she expressed that many times. So I said to her 'I know that you like running, when you're 14 years old, I'll put you in a club.'"

Katherine likes tennis, but loves the individuality of track events and shouldering the burden of competition herself.

"Athletics is more challenging for me since it's all about me," said Katherine. "I can do my personal-best times, it's not about others I need to beat. It's all about my abilities, and I like that."

Although Katherine's first event is on Monday, both Surins attended the Games opening ceremonies on Aug. 2. Bruny didn't want his daughter to miss out on the festivities and he was one of the ceremonial flag bearers for the official Canada Summer Games along with fellow Olympians like freestyle skier Jennifer Heil, wheelchair racer Diane Roy, as well as divers Sylvie Bernier, Alexandre Despaties and Annie Pelletier.

"It was a great moment because I see all the kids marching into the stadium and to them it's like a mini-Olympics" said Surin. "It reminded me of back in 1985 when I participated in Saint John, N.B., and I felt the same.

"I always say that the main thing for them is to have fun. Some of them have goals to win medals and everything but the main thing at this stage is to have fun."

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