West Virginia University Hospitals employee Megan Metcalfe is headed for Beijing.
Metcalfe, a physical therapist in WVU HospitalsDepartment of Rehab Services, qualified for the Canadian Summer Olympic team at the Canadian Olympic Trials in Windsor, Ontario, July 4. Metcalfe won in the 5,000-meter run while setting a University of Windsor Stadium record with a time of 15:33.35.
Its always been my dream to be both a physical therapist and an Olympic athlete,the Edmonton, Alberta, native said.Its now just starting to sink in that Im actually going to Beijing.
The former NCAA champion and WVU track standout earned her masters degree in physical therapy from WVU in 2005. While training and competing in races in the region and internationally, Metcalfe works part-time in the WVUH Rehab Services Department.
Her schedule sometimes allows for only a couple of days of work each week.
Everyones been really good to me when I have to go away for a couple of weeks at a time,she said.
Shell be happy to get back to her patients when the games are over.
I see a little bit of everything in my job. I love it,she said.
Metcalfe helps patients with movement and exercise, sometimes guiding them to relearn skills lost through injury or illness and teach them to use prosthetics, walkers or other devices. Physical therapists also employ therapies such as electrical stimulation and ultrasound treatment of muscles or immersion in whirlpools to help patients heal.
Her favorite part of the job is helping neurology patients, some of whom are stroke victims or brain-tumor patients who may be struggling to recover basic movements of the arms and legs. Part of Metcalfes job is to give positive feedback to keep patients on track.
Usually in physical therapy we are trying to increase the patientsfunction and mobility,she said.Its all very hands on. Sometimes we are helping them learn to stand up, balance and walk again.
She leaves Aug. 2 for Beijing and will be accompanied by her parents; her twin brother, a medical student in Edmonton; and her fiancé, Jonathan Wright, a lawyer in Fairmont whom she met when they were both on the WVU track team. WVU track and cross country coach Sean Cleary, whom Metcalfe credits as a key to her success, also plans to join the group.
To prepare for the Beijing weather, Metcalfe has been donning long pants and a long-sleeved shirt for her training runs. She covers about 100 miles a week and also lifts weights. She sleeps and naps in an altitude tent and spends hours doing what seems like torturesitting in bathtub full of water and ice. She stays there so longabout 15 minutesthat even a hot shower doesnt warm up her legs.
After youve had a hard workout, the ice helps with recovery,she explained.The first minute is always the hardest. Then you go numb.
A runner since high school, Metcalfe came to WVU on a track scholarship and became one of the top distance runners in school history. She set a school record by earning NCAA All-America status nine times and won the 5,000 meters in 2005 as a senior.
Her engagement and her WVUH job will probably keep her grounded here despite her ties to Canada. She plans to stay here at least through the 2012 Olympics.
The New Balance footwear company signed on as her primary sponsor.