By HUGH TOWNSEND -- Halifax Chronicle-Herald
Mike Sutton, like the late Hank Snow sang about in one of his old hits, has been
Everywhere, that is, but a Summer Olympics. But now, in September, the
41-year-old Halifax physiotherapist will have that experience, too, as part of
Canada's medical team in Sydney, Australia.
"It's the first Summer Olympics I've gone to," Sutton says. "But I have done
many international competitions, Winter Olympics (in Calgary), Francophone
Games, Commonwealth Games, Pan-American Games, University Games, and I've done
many of those multiple times.
"I've been to many world championships. I was with the national track and field
team in Australia, with the national gymnastics team at world championships in
Puerto Rico, in China, in Japan. The list goes on. And I've been involved in a
lot of world championships that were held in Canada. Here in Nova Scotia, for
example, the world canoeing championships and the world figure skating
championships. I've been the chief therapist for Canada at many of those Games
around the world, but this is the first time I'll actually be doing Summer
It fulfills a dream.
"It'll be the same type of workload, but a slightly different environment. The
Summer Olympics is sort of the top of the ladder, so to speak. So it'll be
another accomplishment, another summit.
"My dream was to work at a Summer Olympics, so it is sort of an achievement from
that point of view. Some of the events I've been at may have had more countries
involved, more athletes involved, but the Summer Olympics still have the
prestige of being the big international sporting event of the world."
Despite everywhere he's been, there's nothing routine about it. There is still a
"There's still very much a high. I don't think it will ever get routine. I love
working with elite athletes. They have a motivation, they want to get back into
play the best they can. There's pressure for us to get them back the best we
"There's travel to foreign countries. Mind you, what you do inside of four walls
in Canada, you can do inside of four walls anywhere in the world. It's the same
sort of thing. But there's just something different about trying to help our
athletes do something for Canada."
Professional duties limit how much actual competition he sees, but Sutton never
loses the excitement of where he is.
"There are times when you burn the candle at both ends and in the middle just to
get all the work done. We have to perform 24 hours a day for the full length of
the event. But there may be times when things slow down and you can get out and
see some events."
In Sydney, he'll be working with the Canadian men's and women's gymnastics
teams, as well as the sailing team and rhythmic gymnasics team.
Just like athletes and fans, though, Sutton gets caught up in the patriotic side
of international competitions.
"That's probably the most important part of it all. To be able to walk into an
opening ceremony with thousands of screaming audience, and you're wearing the
Canadian uniform, and the Canadian flag is flying, and the anthem is playing,
it's such a proud moment.
"If anybody wants to feel pride in their country, to travel with a national team
and go to an opening event is where you'll feel it. Even to be there when the
Canadian flag is raised when a Canadian wins a medal, you feel so proud. You
stick out your chest and say, 'Hey, it's my country!' It's a really neat
Closer to home, Sutton has been involved professionally with many local teams,
from hockey's Nova Scotia Voyageurs, Nova Scotia Oilers, Halifax Citadels and
Halifax Mooseheads, to basketball's Halifax Windjammers, to soccer's Nova
"It's kept us busy, but that's part of the fun of what I enjoy doing. I chose
physiotherapy as my profession, and I love what I do, and every time an
opportunity comes along to have some fun while you're working, you can't
"We're very lucky to have a lot of international and national events happen here
on the East Coast and it's nice to be involved with them, even on a local
level. We have the world marathon canoe championships at the end of August,
we've got the national paddling championships. Every year there are two or
three major events going on that we get involved with. It makes work a little