Penticton triathlete turns accident into inspirational story

She came as close to death as one could, said a doctor, and now a Penticton triathlete’s story of recovery is being shared on the big screen.

A Second Chance: The Janelle Morrison Story is an inspiring documentary directed by Rob Kelly of Kelly Brothers Productions.

“It doesn’t have to do only with triathletes or athletes in general, it is a life thing. It is a fall down seven times and stand up eight kind of story,” said Morrison.

In November of 2010 Morrison, an elite athlete looking to improve upon her third place position at her debut Ironman Canada race, was in a near-fatal car accident near Revelstoke. A minivan lost control, crossed the centre line and collided with her Toyota Matrix leaving it a pile of twisted metal. Morrison’s feet were jammed into her console, taking rescuers more than three hours to get her out of the wreck. Had the rescue taken any longer, the tools to amputate her leg were going to be used. Her injuries were extensive, including a ruptured diaphragm, punctured lung and many broken bones. She was put into a medically-induced coma and doctors said had it not been for exceptional physical condition she would not have survived her injuries. A Second Chance follows Morrison on her road to recovery and goal to complete the Ironman in Penticton once again. Last summer, Morrison accomplished that goal in the 30th and final Ironman race in the city, finishing third in the women’s pro category.

“My coach was skeptical because I had limited running miles and tendonitis, but I really felt strongly within myself that I wanted my first Ironman back to be in Penticton,” said Morrison, who will race in Challenge Penticton this August.

A huge part of her recovery involved the making of the documentary. Morrison said video diaries she filmed were better than any type of counselling or therapy she could have had. As well, speaking engagements Morrison has been conducting to tell her story have helped her come to terms with what happened. Throughout it all she assigned no blame.

“I don’t think the people driving meant to cause an accident that day and that was not going to help me heal. I can get angry at the drivers or insurance companies causing stress or I can focus on what I need to in order to heal. That is the way I chose to see everything. It is not that I had rose coloured glasses on. I definitely had feelings to deal with and I did not deal with everything perfectly, but that kind of anger or blame doesn’t help overcome things,” said Morrison.

The athlete praised the director for allowing things to occur naturally and not being invasive while she was training and in recovery.

This is the third showing of A Second Chance in a theatre setting. It screened in Calgary and the town she was born in, Fort St. John, but Morrison said this one will be special for her.

“The Okanagan Valley and Penticton especially, the community and support here has been overwhelming. I really feel that the support that people within this community provided and even the nature of this place is healing. I really feel being here had a really great impact on my recovery,” said Morrison. “I had a lot of support in so many ways it’s countless, and this is sort of a way to show how much that support really meant and the result of that support in a situation that was initially deemed to be impossible.”

The documentary will be shown on Jan. 24 at the Landmark Cinema 7 in Penticton at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale and area available only online at http://asecondchancefilm.zoobis.com/. Penticton’s Steve King will be hosting the screening and Morrison and the documentary director, Kelly, will be answering audience questions after the showing.

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