Ontario competitive skateboarder stays positive despite mystery illness, drop in rankings


Cody French may very well be bitter and offended, and never many individuals would blame him.

Over the previous 2½ years, the competitive skateboarder from Elora, Ont., has confronted a mystery sickness that also is not resolved, he could not journey to competitions in the U.S. on account of COVID-19 restrictions and he battled despair.

But French will not be bitter.

Despite all the pieces he is been by way of, he smiles and laughs simply as he sits on a picnic desk beside the Silvercreek Skatepark in Guelph, Ont., in the rain.

“I’m so grateful and I’m so blessed,” he stated.

The 24-year-old feels he is on his comeback journey now, and hopes his story will encourage others to maintain pushing by way of the robust instances.

Mystery sickness

French obtained his first skateboard from his greatest good friend in kindergarten. He remembers that reward — and his good friend who died six years in the past — fondly.

French performed hockey and lacrosse. When he’d go to arenas in different communities, he’d generally see skateparks and was all the time drawn to them.

“One day I simply tried it and stored going. That was it,” he stated.

Before 2020, French stated, he would escape to California in the colder months “to movie, get some good skateboard clips, model offers, and yeah, simply travelling with competitions.”

In early March 2020, he positioned sixteenth on the Canada Skateboard nationwide championships, incomes 155.61 factors — double his 2019 rating.

But on March 24, his birthday, he was hospitalized with extreme abdomen pains.

Skateboarder Cody French on his health-care issues

Skateboarder Cody French of Elora, Ont., has struggled with a mystery sickness since early March 2020. But he says he needs to work by way of it and get again on his board.

“I used to be vomiting and it was simply dry mouth. It was getting so unhealthy and I could not sleep. I had nightmares after which it began to be blood, after which I bought fearful,” he stated.

When he left the hospital two weeks later, he had misplaced greater than 50 kilos. He was weak, wanted to rebuild muscle mass and get again on his board.

To this present day, he does not know what brought on him to turn into sick and he continues to see specialists at hospitals in Guelph, Hamilton and Toronto. Eating stays a problem, however he says the assist community he has round him along with his household, sponsors and mates has been invaluable.

“Just for serving to me, like, staying motivated, serving to me with my medical payments — there’s a whole lot of medical payments — and simply nonetheless serving to me journey and keep match, and meal prepping and actually all the pieces.”

Set to compete once more

French is now getting ready for a contest this month, the Tampa AM. He hopes to rise in the rankings, and his final dream could be to hitch Team Canada for the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2024.

“That 100 per cent, that will be my aim,” he stated.

He is aware of he has a whole lot of work forward of him. French was thirty sixth on the 2021 Canadian Skateboard rating record. There are 9 members of Canada’s avenue skateboarding nationwide group, and French is aware of competitors is fierce.

But he stated even when he does not make the Olympics, it will be OK.

Young man wearing a tuque (or beanie) holding a skateboard. The skatepark has concrete ramps. Trees with leaves that have changed colours are seen in the background and the concrete is wet because it was raining.
Cody French, who grew up in Elora, Ont., is an newbie skateboarder who hopes to sooner or later compete on the Olympics. He’s pictured on the Silvercreek Skatepark in Guelph on Oct. 26, when he spoke to CBC News about his current struggles with a mystery sickness and getting again on his board. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

“If I did not make it, it would not damage me as a result of on the finish of the day, they’re all my mates and I might like to see any skateboarder simply going on the market representing the nation. That’s superb,” he stated.

Adam Higgins is the high-performance director and head coach of Canada Skateboard. He stated French is on their radar they usually noticed potential in the younger skater, however in addition they seen he had dropped off the scene.

“The greatest factor you are able to do is begin competing once more … Going to Tampa is a superb begin and taking a look at different competitions that he can do to extend his rating in Canada,” Higgins stated.

Making Team Canada is predicated on skaters’ rankings, Higgins stated. The subsequent season, which will get underway in March 2023, is predicted to have extra competitions than in the previous two years. It’s anticipated competitions the place French may improve his rankings shall be held till June 2024, with the Paris Olympics set to begin July 26, 2024.

“We take a look at all of the occasions that skaters attend, we rank the skaters and attempt to use that to provide out alternatives to skate in the qualification occasions,” Higgins stated.

“So for Cody, he wants to begin competing extra, rising his rating so we will really get him into an Olympic utility occasion.”

Important to speak about psychological well being

French stated that earlier than he fell sick, it was essential for him to talk out about psychological well being and the significance of taking care of your self.

That has turn into much more essential to him now. He stated the varied drugs medical doctors have prescribed to him for his sickness have led to bouts of despair. 

“I’m from a small city and there is not a lot to do. Depression’s a factor. Some folks go down the improper path, stepping into alcohol or medicine, and it is abusive, and I’ve had some mates which have dedicated suicide. It’s made me very depressed,” he stated.

“I’ve reached out to folks, therapists, and I used to be simply making an attempt to inspect my mates. You know, it is tougher whenever you’re older and everybody’s going away for varsity and stuff, however I inspect my mates and simply all the time be certain everybody’s OK as a result of. I do not wanna lose anybody else, truthfully.”

‘Never surrender’

French stated he loves the skateboarding group and serving to out youthful skate boarders when he can. He can typically be discovered at parks in Waterloo, Kitchener and Guelph.

Sometimes, he’ll give away sneakers or skateboards he now not wants.

“If I see a child with a crappy skateboard, I try to donate one in all my outdated boards or a brand new board,” he stated. “I all the time attempt to be sure that they’ve sneakers. My toes are small, I’m Size 8, so I all the time assist out the little guys with some sneakers.”

He hopes youthful skaters are impressed by his perseverance in any case he is been by way of.

“I simply wish to encourage as many youngsters as attainable simply to by no means surrender, simply to maintain making an attempt, if it is a sport, a profession, college,” he stated.

“I made it by way of it. I do know you can also make it by way of it. You simply gotta keep positive and simply preserve grinding.”


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