Grizzlies skate to their dreams

Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, political science majors at Oakland University will represent Team Canada in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The pair found out they would represent Team Canada in early January after skating at the National Championship held in Ottawa, Canada.

“We put down two really strong, personal-best performances for us,” Islam said. “We knew right away after our scores came up that we had beaten the teams we needed to beat and we knew we had earned the spot for the 2014 Olympics.”



The duo grew up in Barrie, Ontario and were skating together and even in the same group of friends before their partnership began.

“We pretty much grew up together,” Paul said.

“The chemistry was there right from the beginning so it was an easy transition when we became partners,” Islam said.

They began skating together in 2009 and had early success in winning a silver medal the 2010 World Junior Championships.


Battle wounds

However, their road to success was not always easy. Injuries became a possible road block for the duo along the way. 

Alexandra tore several ligaments in her knee and pulled a muscle, which can be a game changer for skaters with Olympic aspirations.

Because of injuries the pair began to take things easier on their bodies.

“We developed some bad habits from being injured and started taking it a little easier, and we carried that habit into our next season, which didn’t work well for us,” Islam said.

At the beginning of this season the duo sat down and re-evaluated their goals.


Golden Grizzlies

They are now training six days a week and skating over three hours a day as well as working out in the gym. 

They also take contemporary, ballet or stretch classes throughout the season. However, they still make time to be part-time students at Oakland University.

“Everyone over at the school has been awesome, they’re so proud of us, and we’re proud to represent Oakland University,” Islam said.


As the duo prepare for their dreams of attending the Olympics to become a reality they keep their nerves at bay by treating every competition as another practice.

“It’s the training that you do all season that really prepares you for a competition,” Islam said.

The road to the Olympics has been a “journey,” as Islam describes it. Through success, failures and injuries the two have grown together as a duo and prepare to represent Team Canada.

“It’s one of those things that every little girl dreams of; to put on that sparkly dress and represent Canada at the Olympics is such a surreal feeling.”