Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Bo Vinh-Doyle. I come from a family of refugees from Cambodia. I am the first Canadian born to my family. I grew up in Kingston Ontario. I played all sorts of sports when I was young. I really loved basketball and volleyball, but I loved running more and I discovered when I was young that I was good at it. In my grade 12 year, I won a bronze medal at the OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) track and field championships. Then, I was recruited by several universities in the US for track and field and cross country. I chose to attend Boston University on scholarship and graduated with a BA in English. While at BU, I qualified for 3 NCAA championships, was MVP for Women’s Cross Country in 2000 and was named Women’s Track and Field Team Captain for 2002-2003.
What habits did you develop in sport help you become successful in your career?
Distance running is a sport that takes a lot of discipline and self-motivation. It is also a sport
that is very humbling. There are plenty of victories and disappointments. I learned that I needed to have positive dialogue going in my mind. So, whether I was writing an exam or in the middle of a race or training in rain and snow, positive self-talk kept me going and kept me focused. I also learned to set goals for myself. When I was in the eighth grade, I read Carl Lewis’s autobiography Inside Track and he talked about being a track athlete and being recruited to University of Houston on a track scholarship. I thought to myself that I wanted to do what Carl Lewis did and go to school on a track scholarship. That was a big goal for a refugee kid with a learning disability. I worked hard to get the best grades I could and I did training that many of my peers were not doing. I did long runs twice a week to build my aerobic fitness. At the high school level, there were not many athletes who did longer training runs. Don’t be afraid to do or try something just because no one else around you is doing it. Probably one of the best lessons I learned through sport was that you can be humble and driven at the same time. Have an attitude of being open to learning from the people around you. You can learn from anyone and any situation. Be driven, be willing to work hard to achieve something.
How has sport provided you with new or different opportunities you would not have expected?
Sport provided me with post-secondary education. It also gave me coaches and mentors I would not have met in another context. Some of the best friendships I have are from my time on the women’s track team at BU. I still talk to them and it’s like no time has passed. I got to compete at a high level of competition and see how I did against the best in North America.
What advice do you have for parents, coaches, or sport administrators to improve inclusion in sport?
I was more often than not, the only person on the starting line of a race that was not white. It was often assumed that because I am Asian, that I was not fast. I surprised a lot of people because they had never seen a fast, Asian, female athlete. Don’t overlook talent because someone is not what you expect. I was fortunate to have coaches that saw my talent and were interested in helping me develop that. They weren’t thrown off by my ethnicity.
5 words that best describe me are: