Sunday, February 28, 2010

Great Game, Great Games

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics have just ended and everyone is upbeat and proud. That's quite a turn around from two weeks ago, when we were all being so blase. Last night I congratulated some American friends, in advance, on the Silver medal in men's hockey and today did my best to keep up on the game. I was committed to a church function this afternoon, so I couldn't watch it. Instead I surreptitiously called my daughter and her husband three times and checked in on how things were going.

Afterwards, my wife wanted to go straight home, she wasn't feeling well, but I reminded her that she had wanted to pick up a toaster that was on sale and that we weren't going to be out that way for a few days. I made a bee line for the electronics section and joined the crowd watching the game. It was overtime, the score tied 2-2. No one was shopping. When Crosby scored the winning goal everyone broke out in cheers and applause. All the way home - a drive right across the city - people were jubilant. Flags waving, cars honking, people running out into the streets, oblivious to the traffic.

We got a record 14 gold medals in total. A record for Canada and for a Winter host city. Much of the credit goes to the Own The Podium program, which provided $110 million in financing over the past five years. Not as much as it sounds when you divide it over the five years and between hundreds of athletes, and thousands of coaches, trainers, officials, etc. I can still remember when many of our athletes got next to nothing, if anything at all, and had to hold down jobs while training to go up against full time (if not technically professional) opponents. There were negatives. The weather, of course. The British media seemed to hate the games, calling it the worst ever. You'd think Munich would hold that dubious distinction. London, not known for its great weather, will be hosting the Summer Games in two years, so I guess they'll get to show us how its done. As it was the UK won only one medal in Vancouver. The only real negative was the death of Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili, a kid of 21.

Its been a good two weeks, we've watched a lot of interesting and exciting stuff, but I think the highlight for me will be the ride home today and the pleasure everyone felt at our atheletes performance. Winning at our national game was the icing on the cake.

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