Bounce in Our Step
The Summer Olympics have always been that illusive competition for Canada, winning medals has been easy, but winning enough to beat powerhouse nations such as the United States, Australia, Russia, China and Great Britain has always been just out of reach, and London 2012 is no different.
However; after hosting the Winter Olympics in 2010, Vancouver and especially Whistler, seems to have retained Olympic Fever and we’re backing our Summer athletes like never before. The elation we all felt when Rosie MacLennan bounced, flipped, and somersaulted her way to our first Olympic Gold Medal of the 2012 Games was palpable, and for a nation that really only has a maximum of 3 solid months of ‘Summer weather’, we’re batting very close to Summer-soaked nations such as Australia and athletics champions Jamaica.
Winter Olympics 2010, Whistler Olympic Plaza
Photo: Steve Andrews
Our Women’s Soccer team experienced firsthand the difficulty in international competition as they were, some would say, robbed of their chance at a gold medal on Monday. A devastating and nail biting last minute loss to the USA had us all on the edges of our seats, and yet, our pride and support of the women has grown even stronger. With every loss, every tear, every heartfelt acceptance of defeat, our proud nation seems to band together and support our athletes; no matter what.
The long lived swimming dynasty, and even athletic legacy, of the Australians seems to be waning this Olympics, due to cuts in funding and a lack of focus by the Australian Institute of Sport. This has led to a much lower medal count for our Aussie compatriots, and the Australian media has been the first to broadcast it: “Chic silver a must have accessory” mocks the Sydney Morning Herald at the lack of Gold being won. “Soul Searching as Australian Swimmers Sink” screams the Sports News Pages in Australia, and the Daily Telegraph (Sydney’s major tabloid) has been crying foul over Australia’s lack of gold medal wins, in particular highlighting that on August 4th, Australia was currently 18th in the Gold Medal tally, six places behind neighbouring country New Zealand who had thus far won three gold and three bronze medals. Or, as the Telegraph would put it: “TRANS-TASMAN TORMENT: It’s painful enough that Australia is 18th on the medal table. But to be sitting behind the New Zealanders … Please”! (Source – Daily Telegraph (front page), 4 August 2012)
This is an extremely disappointing and de-motivating reaction by the Australian media, towards their own athletes, and I can only hope that this negative reaction spurs the government to start investing back into the Australian athletes and realising their full potential again.
Rosie MacLennan: Gold medal winner Trampoline
Photo: National Post
In stark contrast, Canada, working off the concept that nothing spectacular has been expected of this great, but Wintery nation, has had a sense of growing national pride during these games, celebrating wins, high-placings and even losses. Canada.com encourages spectators to embrace the Summer Olympics like they do the Winter Olympics, urging Canadians to recognise that “Summer Games athletes deserve support” and the author puts things in perspective when she emphasises that “there are approximately 80 countries competing in the Winter Olympics, compared with the more than 200 at the Summer Games. And there are just 12 hockey teams at the Winter Olympics because only about 30 countries are even able to pull a team together. It means a hockey medal for Canada is almost inevitable. Meanwhile, our swimmers, like Tommy Gossland from Nanaimo, are competing against swimmers from nearly 100 countries. It’s incredibly tough just to get to the competition in the first place, never mind reach the podium.”
So let’s all get our minds around the fact that the Summer Olympics really are the epitome of International Sporting Competition for a much larger proportion of athletes around the globe, and stand up and SUPPORT our great Nation! For the fact that we’re placing 28th right now is a spectacular effort, with more successes to come, and more opportunities to celebrate these dedicated and talented young men and women from all over Canada.
Get down to Olympic Plaza to watch the coverage and cheer on your athletes, from the start to finish, win or lose, because the fact that we’re out there at all is a testament to the perseverance and commitment that we have made to bettering our country from the ground up. GO CANADA!
Canadian Olympic Synchro Team: 4th overall
Photo: CBC Sports