"I deserve to enjoy the achievements of my past and those ahead of me." Image by: Movember
15 November 2023

Patrick Chan’s story: More than enough

Patrick Chan
4 minutes read time

My introduction to sport

As a kid, my parents were very active in sport and introduced me to tennis, golf, swimming, taekwondo, and mixed into all of that was figure skating. I’m sure they were just trying to tire me out, but as I started earning badges, I really fell in love with figure skating and never looked back. Getting on the ice at this stage in my life was the best. There was no pressure or expectations. I was driven by the feeling of going fast. I didn’t have to think about if I was enough – I just had to show up and have fun.

The world of competitive figure skating

The shift into the competitive world happened at a really young age for me. I was barely 11. I left the other sports behind to focus solely on skating and validation shifted from earning badges to local and regional competitions. I now had choreographed routines to a piece of music and it wasn’t just about going fast anymore. Being on the ice all alone, there’s no coach, there are no other skaters. I’m the only one out there being judged for every single move I made and there’s nobody to blame. It’s all on you.

I was still smiling though. I was still enjoying the freedom of skating and the increased competition felt just like collecting badges when I was a kid.

The Olympic journey

Competing at the Olympics brought a heightened level of pressure and expectations, knowing that each time you step on the ice, that performance, could change your life. I started to ask myself, am I enough to make it to the podium?

The dream of getting that standing ovation didn’t come true at my first Olympics in 2010. Fast-forward eight years, to my final performance at the PyeongChang Games, I wasn’t going in a champion. I had to really dig deep to even go for it and for the first time, I shifted my focus from my individual event to the team event. There’s nothing like winning gold alongside your friends. Stepping into that opening ceremony, arm-in-arm with your comrades, your teammates, there’s no feeling like it.

That was the high. Pride. Community. Validation. The low of the Olympic journey was coming home. You’re not with your peers anymore – you’re all alone. The stage is gone, the cameras are gone, and you’re left with your thoughts. Despite the win, I didn’t feel like I was enough – not even close. I hadn’t achieved everything I wanted to, so I left competitive figure skating with a bitter taste. I struggled to understand my emotions and resorted to comparing myself to others.

The next chapter

When I made the decision to leave the sport, the next big challenge was my mental health. It was the hardest moment in my life. Nothing had prepared me for that transition. I didn’t know who I was without skating and would wonder what my place was in the world. Questions like, “Am I anything?” played on repeat. It felt like everything I had worked so hard for didn’t matter. And being a new father, I couldn’t believe I had gone from being on the biggest stage in professional sport to now changing diapers.

Becoming Oliver's dad had a profound impact on my life. It transformed me as an individual because my priorities shifted. I had to consider another person and make him my priority. The shift in the mindset was huge. It reminded me that life is about the experience, not just the performance. It’s about finding pure joy. I’ve had to have candid conversations with my wife, my family, and therapist about dismantling those standards and expectations I developed during my competitive career. Reflecting now, it isn’t about the medals or the money, it’s about the experiences, the people.

Message to other men

In society, these expectations are huge. It’s so important to give space for men to have truthful, honest, candid conversations. That’s why I support Movember. They’re creating space for men. And that’s why I’m sharing my story. I want there to be less stigma around talking about your feelings and life’s challenges for Oliver and the next generation.

When I look back on it now, so many wonderful things happened during that time of uncertainty: getting married, having a family and embracing the process of finding who I am beyond skating. Doing the little things with a positive mindset is “more than enough”. I’ve learned to enjoy the small victories and allowing myself to feel good about them. I’ve spent enough time in my life being a perfectionist and overly critical of myself that I deserve to enjoy the achievements of my past and those ahead of me.

Support Patrick in his mission to change the face of men’s health.