Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympic Reflections

I think that I always feel blessed to be a Canadian...we live in a country of plenty, opportunity, and freedom.  But I'm not sure that I feel PROUD to be a Canadian as often as I should!  There was plenty of that emotion going through me over the past 2 weeks of Olympic watching (don't think I've watched that much coverage since 1994!)  Proud because of so many incredible performances by Canadian athletes; proud because of the reception and support given to all of the athletes by the crowds in Vancouver, and proud because we got to host the world.

At times it feels like the negative among us get the most press.  Those complaining about us hosting the Olympics; those complaining about the Olympic movement in general; those complaining about our medal standings and the Own the Podium program prior to the medal haul of this past week.  It feels like those voices have been silenced, at least temporarily, by the giant celebration of the past few days across the entire country; by the joy and unity of athletes and fans from all over the world; and by the passion for excellence and determination of the athletes themselves as they strove to do their best.

I've always loved watching the Olympics...the ideals that drive these athletes day in and day out, through hours of tough training, fatigue, racing around the world often apart from their loved ones, inspire me.  To be given a gift, be it in athletics or other areas, is an amazing thing....especially amazing is to watch what happens when that gift is sculpted into something great.  That we would all use our gifts :)

So many moments over the past 2 weeks left me a bit choked up...okay, more than a bit :)  A Slovenian x-country skier winning bronze after breaking 4 ribs and puncturing a lung in a training crash (and being carried away after finishing); an alpine skier from Ghana striving not just to participate but to be as competitive as possible and inspire a nation; the Canadian men's x-country team with a string of phenomenal finishes which wouldn't have been dreamed of even 8 years ago; Virtue and Moir making history in an unforgettable free dance; the Canadian hockey men carrying the weight of a country on their shoulders and doing it when it counted (anyone who says the NHLers shouldn't be allowed to play or that they don't care about the Olys should just watch the faces of the ecstatic Canadian and devastated American players post-game...).  Clara Hughes...phenomenal sportswoman in her swansong.  And of course the courage of Joannie Rochette...not just a bit choked up but more like sobbing while watching her short program.  To those who have inspired the world and given their best with all eyes upon them...thank you for the ride!

They're showing the crowds on Yonge Street post-hockey game right now...incredible!  

May the joy, emotion, excellence, unity, and excitement that our country has experienced in the past two weeks not just be a passing thing, but inspire us in the years to come :)  And may we remember always that the world is a small place, that we are all neighbors, and that we can all inspire each other in so many ways.

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