The Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver are another chapter in the unique history that Canada is writing on the world stage — sometimes in bold letters, sometimes in subtle poetic cadence.
The world’s top athletes pushed and soared, twisted and glided for 17 days and gave the world a spectacular performance. But in the end, it was Canada’s team that set the record, claiming more gold medals than in any Winter Olympic Games in history. The host country pulled in 14 first place medals, compared with 10 for Germany and 9 for the United States. To top it off, there was the Canada – U.S. final that saw two evenly matched emblematic titans of hockey go into sudden death with Canada claiming the gold there, too. Joannie Rochette, the figure skater from Quebec, won the bronze and the hearts of millions everywhere for her amazing grace in the face of such a sorrowful loss. She became the world’s adopted symbol of what the Olympic spirit means in terms of dedication and commitment. The opening and closing ceremonies showcased unsurpassed talent that revealed to the world the potential of a land blessed with natural beauty and endowed with an energetic and creative people. And they came from every part of the globe to make Canada their home.
All this was a fitting and long overdue reminder to those who may have forgotten that Canada can compete with anyone and win. Canada will never shine in the swagger competition. Its voice is sometimes understated in either of its official languages. Its institutions of democracy sometimes seem a little tepid compared with those of the U.S., and way too much power is concentrated in the hands of its prime minister. One does not get many Barack Obamas rising in Canada’s political system. Nor would a Sarah Palin ever get beyond a small town council chamber. But ask Canadians to build a railway through a mountain and span a continent with it, or charge them with taking a hill called Vimy Ridge in the battle torn fields of First World War France; tell them you want to create a health care system that is universal and serves all citizens equally, or enlist them in a war against terror in Afghanistan – and you will see an uncompromising and unparalleled spirit that gets the job done like no one else. One can never presume to know with precise certitude on what side of a struggle Providence sits. But when you have a Canadian on your side, there’s never any doubt. And success is always a lot closer because of it.
The Games got off to a shaky start, but, overall, their organization was a masterful display of management at its best. Canada’s Olympic committee never lost sight — as many organizations often do — of its central mission. In this case, that was the competition of the players and teams and the ease by which audiences could partake in the excitement. Well done.
The Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver are another chapter in the unique history that Canada is writing on the world stage — sometimes in bold letters, sometimes in subtle poetic cadence. It speaks a language of tolerance, understanding, respect for the individual and, above all, of how precious the gift of freedom is to be able to compete, excel, and, if not to prevail, at least to leave a better mark with a head held high.
That’s a gold medal performance that is Canada’s gift to the world.