Canadians roll forward in Olympics
Eyes on sports
by Josh Pagé
Canada dominated the Olympic games in Athens. Now before I’m accused of being the source of the crystal meth epidemic in Regina, have a quick gander at these impressive facts.
We finished seventh overall, with 72 medals and two athletes won five gold medals apiece. What’s this you say? Canada did not dominate the Olympics; they embarrassed themselves? Oh–my mistake. I was referring to Canada’s dominance in the Paralympic games. So why is Canada so good at these games and absolutely abysmal in the able-bodied games? Let’s have a look shall we.
Canadian Olympians, at least the vast majority, accept defeat far too easily. I remember watching a Canadian hurdler make the finals, then knock down nine of ten hurdles, finish dead last, but still call his race a success. I fell off my chair laughing. When asked by the always-annoying Scott Oak (cloth adjustable hats went out in the 80s Scott) about how good it was that Canadians were making the finals, Adam Van Koeverden summed it up quite nicely, “That is such an ultra Canadian attitude. The Olympics are not about going to the finals. They are about winning medals.” Touché Adam, touché.
Some misfortunes were understandable, like Felicien’s little tumble, but others were more embarrassing than admitting to actually enjoying the Gilmore Girls. The men’s rowing team decided that swerving into another team’s lane is the only way to go. The entire Canadian swim team obviously believed that some form of demented doggy paddle would surely lead them to victory. And how can we forget about our prestigious flag bearer, Nicolas Gill, ousted in the first round? Ouch.
The Paralympic team, however, has what it takes to win medals. For starters, they have actual talent, unlike their able-bodied brothers, but they also possess grit and determination. The men’s basketball team cruised to its second consecutive gold medal with sheer grit. The swim team won 40 medals in the pool. Swimmer Stephanie Dixon finished with a Michael Phelps-like eight medals.
I was taken aback when watching a few of the competitions. The Canadians refused to give up. It was like watching Joe Carter up to bat in the 1993 World Series. Even when trailing, the Canadian athletes kept pushing on and never gave up. Canadians caught an early glimpse of this grit when Canada claimed gold in the demonstration sport of wheelchair racing during the able-bodied games.
Sadly, the same can’t be said about the performance of our other Olympians. Let’s just admit to it Canada, our Olympic program is an embarrassment to the Olympics itself. Belarus ended up with more medals than us. I don’t even know where that is.
Many people feel a lack of funding is the problem. Canadian athletes do need better funding but, this is not the root of the problem. Our Olympians need better coaching and better cohesiveness as a unit. Can someone, anyone, please tell me why the canoe/kayak team and the rowing team do not train together? They use the same facilities, so why do they not train together? Our Paralympians put together a dominating performance for two simple reasons. Good coaching and a common goal. All these Olympians believed in winning medals, not just reaching finals.
I tip my cap to the Canadian Paralympians. I did not know the terms “70 medals” and “Canada” went together, but I sure do now. Hopefully some of their Olympic magic rubs off on the rest of Canada’s Olympians because they need it.