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It Takes A Village To Get To The Olympic Village

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Photo credit Ian MacNicol

One of the biggest commitments and complaints you'll hear from the parents of competitive athletes in training is the constant driving. Driving to practice, to competitions, all of it made a little bit easier when you can count on a car pooling community. Your "village" of drivers is key; I know this personally from my daughter's rep hockey team. It can be more important to find a child in the same neighbourhood on your team as it can be to find the right overall team fit. If you can't get there, you can't play. And "getting there" is something that Canada's top four divers, dubbed The Fab VI, is what it's all about, as they move their village of support from home to the acclaimed and anticipated Olympic village in Rio.

"I'm looking forward to the vibe in the village; all of us wearing our Canada Gear." Roseline Filion said during my interview, a sentiment that was echoed throughout the group of dynamic and focused divers on their way to the Rio 2016 Olympics. The name Fab IV comes from F for (Roseline) Filion, A for (Jennifer) Abel, B for (Meaghan) Benfeito and the Roman numeral IV stands in for W in (Pamela) Ware.

"To be able to share this with other people who are going through the same thing", Benfeito confirmed, is a big part of what they're looking forward to when they travel to Brazil, most of them with their original village, their parents, particularly their Moms. Their sense of community and teamwork came together, and Benfeito knows being a part of the Fab VI is a big contributor to their success. "Even though diving is an individual sport we are better together. We motivate each other."

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Photo credit Vincent Graton

Jennifer Abel is thrilled to have the opportunity to be able to publicly thank her Mom, thanks to the support of the #ThankYouMom campaign from Procter & Gamble. "It's not easy to say thank you." she says. "This is a way to appreciate her. When I was crying on the phone, she had to take care of me. I want to show her that I'm proud and thankful. Usually people think it's only the athletes, and it's more than that. (I'm so) happy to share these moments with them."

Benfeito agrees. "Cool that moms are finally getting recognized. I have younger twin sisters and she had to bring them to the pool with me all the time. She was my taxi. She had to work at night to make sure I got to all of my practices. Finally she can get recognized for that."

Ah that taxi driving role. Pamela Ware knows the sacrifices her mom made with her job, to drive her to all of her diving commitments. "It means so much to me because she has supported me and now I have someone (P&G) to support her."

As the team continues to train five days a week, they continue to rely on their families and original village to get them to their end goal. Filion hasn't forgotten where it all started. "It's about time we put the shine on our mothers. They were our first sponsors. We can show how they influenced our lives." Benfeito agrees. "(It) means a lot to us. We wouldn't be here without them. She's the one person I can go to. The light can shine on them for once."

The team of support really makes a difference. "Of course we're better together." Filion confirms. "The Fab IV; we are all together all the time. We've become sisters and I think our voices have become even louder." Being loud and strong is a big part of who this team is, and the sponsorship of Venus gives them a confidence they need in the sport of diving. "Venus shows power of women and how strong women can be. Makes us want to perform even better. We're in a sport that has to be pretty. We're in a tiny bathing suit. Venus allows us to do that." says Benfeito.

All eyes will focused on the Fab VI in August, none more so than the village that got them there.

Kathy Buckworth is traveling to Rio 2016 as part of the #ThankYouMom campaign. You can follow her posts and interviews with Canadian athletes at www.kathybuckworth.com

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