Janelle Morrison is a Victoria athlete who suffered a terrible accident in 2010 that had doctors tell her she wouldn’t walk. Now a yoga teacher, Morrison wants to offer other women an award for rebuilding themselves after hardship (File contributed/ Janelle Morrison)

Athlete who survived head-on collision offers GameChanger award for women

Victoria woman competed in an Ironman two years after doctors told her she wouldn’t walk

A Victoria woman wants to encourage other women to rebuild their lives after she survived a life-altering accident.

Janelle Morrison was a professional Ironman-distance triathlete when she was in a near-fatal head-on collision in 2010.

“I went down a 30-foot embankment,” Morrison said. “I had a shattered ankle, femur, pelvis, vertebrae, my stomach had moved into lungs, a concussion … as close to death as you can come.”

When Morrison awoke from her 10-day coma, doctors told her she would be lucky to walk, and that there would be no way she could compete again.

After a head-on collision in 2010, Victoria athlete Janelle Morrison, sustained a broken pelvis, femur, broken vertebrae and damaged organs. Doctors told her she probably wouldn’t walk. Two years later she competed in an Ironman competition and placed third in her division. Now a yoga teacher, Morrison wants to offer other women an award for rebuilding themselves after hardship (File contributed/ Janelle Morrison)

Fast forward two years and Morrison finished an Ironman competition and came third in her division.

ALSO READ: Athlete overcomes physical challenges to complete ironman triathlon

While the accomplishment to most is astounding, for Morrison something was missing.

“I was really unfulfilled, and I wasn’t enjoying my comeback,” she said. “I was pushing so hard to come back that I had put all my attention into that and I missed my journey.”

She said what was really needed was nourishment and self-love.

“I needed less of ‘I should’ or ‘I need to.’ What I learned was asking myself the question ‘am I enjoying this?’” Morrison said. “Really a lot of this was me saying ‘I’m an athlete, who am I gonna be without that?’ It’s a lot of fear, and choosing to rebuild is a big step.”

To find that nourishment Morrison turned to yoga and now teaches at the Metta Studio in Victoria. She now wants to do more to help other women celebrate their own journeys, and so she set up the GameChanger: Heart to Rebuild Award.

READ MORE: Greater Victoria conference all about young women imagining possibilities

The award is for any Vancouver Island woman trying to overcome something and rebuild herself.

“She has faced something that she’s committed to overcoming. What that looks like, how that’s turned out is completely up to her,” Morrison said. “Maybe she is recently divorced with three kids, maybe she was given a diagnosis that really had her change her lifestyle… it doesn’t fall on any other lines other than she’s faced a challenge and she’s demonstrated over time a willingness to rise above it.”

The $1,000 award is funded in part by tickets purchased for the GameChanger: Redefining Strength all-day women’s workshop, where the award recipient will be announced on Nov. 10. The event will include keynote speakers and yoga classes focusing on different versions of strength. The event will be at the Hotel Grand Pacific from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

People can put forward nominations until Nov. 5 at 10 a.m. at Janellemorrison.com/award.


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