Sunday, February 28, 2010
A Winter Blast!
The great Olympic party ends today. From all accounts, Vancouver has hosted quite the event, the likes of which I don't think any hosting country or city has experienced to the same extent before. Hordes of celebrants have crowded the streets in all hours and weather for these past two weeks. Our family's two young graduate students in Vancouver have had trouble getting any sort of work done as the party keeps calling to them. They had once thought of renting out their apartment and going on holiday for these two weeks, but I bet they're now glad they didn't miss this once in a lifetime event.
Of course, the actual sporting event has also been quite wonderful. I wrote a week ago how happy I was that Canada had broken the jinx of never having won a gold, Olympic medal on our own soil. Since then, they have really taken off and have garnered a boatload of gold and other medals as well as having some fine non-podium results: with a snow boarding medal here and a figure skating medal there; here a snowboard medal; there a skiing medal; etc.
There are many great stories, but two stand out a little more prominently than most to me: both women who won bronze medals.
Clara Hughes is almost 38 years old, has won medals in both summer and winter Olympics over 16 years, and prevailed to earn a bronze medal in these Olympics in her last race ever: the 5000 metres in long track speed skating. It was an amazing result for someone her age, but most remarkable is her sportsmanlike attitude: someone who is happy and content to be the best that she can be when it counts most.
Joannie Rochette is our womens figure skater who also won a bronze medal in her event. Her sad but inspiring story is that her mother had a massive heart attack and died shortly after getting off the plane in Vancouver. Joannie dealt with it as best as she could, competed with heavy heart, and did well enough to step on the podium to claim a bronze medal. To me, that's a heart-warming and uplifting story, and I'm sure there are many more from every country, including amongst the non-winners of whom we hear so little.
Finally, I want to say something about the negative chatter in this country about our women having had better results than the men as if it's a competition between the sexes. It's true that the women have had somewhat better results although the men have really narrowed the gap in the past few days, but the discrepancy means little to me, for we are one team and one country, and that was simply the way that it went down this time.
It's been a grand two weeks about which Canada and the world should feel proud and positive.