When Teresa Gabriele was a naïve, young 20-year-old at the Atlanta Olympics, she figured on a long and illustrious career on the world’s greatest stage.

A year or so later, Kim Smith joined the Canadian women’s basketball team with visions of Athens and Beijing and a lifetime of incredible moments dancing in her head.

The two of them stood in a Mississauga gym on Monday morning, older and wiser and fully aware that opportunities taken for granted are often opportunities lost.

And they both vow to let their younger teammates know how significant the next month is in their careers, to assure no one takes anything for granted as the women embark on a final qualification process for the 2012 London Games.

“I thought I was going to play in four Olympics,” said Smith. “It’s kind of like once you start getting older — we missed out on two, this will be my third try — it’s like ‘will your body be able to let you go another four years.’ You don’t know, this could be your only shot at an Olympics, and when you’re young you never feel like that. And so I’m trying to convey that message.”

To read the entire article by Doug Smith from the Toronto Star, click here.