Throughout the course of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, were 102 medal events across 15 sporting disciplines. But what exactly happens when an athlete finally achieves their dream of topping the podium? Here, Canadian curler John Morris – who won mixed doubles gold alongside Kaitlyn Lawes – gives us the inside story…

When Switzerland shook our hands at the end of the gold medal game, it was like, “Oh my God, we finally did it!”

The first thing I felt was relief. After all of the hard work we put in, we could finally take a breath and pat ourselves on the back. Then it is just pure emotion and true celebration. I lifted Kaitlyn up – luckily she’s pretty petite – and just knowing we had brought the gold medal home for Canada was an absolutely amazing feeling.

Sharing our victory with the world
Then everything becomes a bit of a whirlwind. We had a little victory ceremony on the ice, where we stood on the podium and received a mascot, but we wouldn’t get our medals until a full day later.

So when you come off the ice, there’s just a huge media scrum and it’s crazy. But you don’t really mind because you’re the happiest person in the world. I could have done media for five straight days if I had to, because I’d won gold and that was all that mattered.

After speaking to the media, you go into doping control and luckily it only took me an hour. Kaitlyn unfortunately had to go a couple of times and so she was in there for around three hours. And all you want to do at that stage is see your family and celebrate with them. Even when we were done there, we had to go and do an interview with Canadian TV, because of the time difference back home, so it was a really late night.

And then the next day from 8am we were just doing interview after interview again. You’re running on adrenaline and as tired as we were – and as much as you just want to celebrate – we realise that the Olympic Games only comes around every four years and it’s not all about you. There are other people who want to share in your victory and this is our chance to show them what mixed curling is all about and to showcase to the world this great sport that we have. I even got the chance to go on Chinese TV, in front of 85 million people, to promote the game of curling and say what fun mixed doubles is.

But at this stage, we still haven’t even received our medals yet and you feel kind of naked without it. It’s like you say, “I won a gold medal”, and everyone just asks, “Where is it?” Until you get that medal, you don’t feel like everything’s complete.

The emotion of the ceremony
In PyeongChang, they held the medal ceremonies all together in the Olympic Plaza every night. There were two other Canadians receiving their medals on the same night as us [Alex Gough’s bronze in luge and Kim Boutin’s 500m bronze in short track speed skating] and it was great seeing them in there.

We went over backstage, gave them both a big hug, and it was just a cool atmosphere. I’ve never experienced that before; at my last Games, we just went on the podium right after we won, whereas here, we got to share it with other medallists.

I was taking pictures with everyone and it was such a good atmosphere because – unlike other events like a world championships – the big difference at the Olympic Games is that everyone who wins a medal feels really good. It didn’t matter what colour, everyone was so elated and that was awesome to see.

Obviously when we finally got on top of that podium, and heard our national anthem play, that was when all the emotions really hit. My grandma died this past year and so I was really thinking of her every game we played, and I knew she was watching. I laid everything that I had out on the line, and I was thinking of her at every moment. That’s what the Olympics do; it’s all about emotions.

And then finally, after 24 hours, you get some time to really celebrate with friends and family. That’s when you have the time of your life.

My new best friend!
Since I got the medal, I’ve been taking it everywhere. They gave us a really cool case, but it’s bulky, so I’ve been carrying it around in a sock in my pocket. I probably need to give it a wash – it’s had a few good nights out already, but I love to see people’s reactions when I show it to them.

I want everyone to enjoy it as much as I do. It makes me happy to see their faces, so I’ve been showing it to kids out on the street, and surprising them like that really warms my heart. I know that if I were a kid and I ran into a gold medallist, it would be really cool to see the medal – so I get more out of it that way than I would just keeping it to myself. The reaction from other people is what really is exciting for me.