The Olympics came to a close this past weekend, and Canada finished third for gold and fourth in overall medal standings.
(From left) Canada’s Jennifer Wakefield, Haley Irwin, Hayley Wickenheiser, Natalie Spooner, and Tara Watchorn sing the national anthem following their 3-2 gold medal victory over the U.S.A. in overtime in the women’s hockey final at the Sochi Winter Olympics Feb. 20. — Photo by The Canadian Press
Every day, traditional and social media networks noted Canada’s Olympic progress, as represented in the daily medal count. As a country, we celebrated every success and mourned every setback.
As a province, if we could have harnessed sheer will for Kaetlyn Osmond, our figure skating medal hope would have come home with a sackful of hardware, just on that alone.
Osmond came home with a silver in team skating, secure in the knowledge that she will be someone to watch for the 2018 winter games in South Korea.
What is clear about the Olympics, politics, corruption and mismanagement aside, is that at its heart, the games are still about being the best: Faster — Higher — Stronger.
Olympians are the best in the world, they are the best in their country, and they are the best in their sport.
Whether they bring home a gold, silver or bronze medal is in some ways immaterial. They represent a goal, the hard work it takes to reach it, and the determination to keep going along that road from gym to world stage.
For every medal hope, there is someone who is setting their personal best, measuring their skill and ability against themselves, against others.
The women’s gold medal hockey game between Canada and the U.S. is a good example of the dichotomy that exists between doing your best and wanting to be the best.
Canada won that game and they, along with the country, were pretty happy with the result, especially when the outcome looked to be so different until that last minute of the game.
Given the challenges of that game, and how hard the Canadian team worked, if the outcome had been silver, they would still be heroes.
A similar story is seen with Patrick Chan, the silver medallist in men’s figure skating. Post-event coverage focused on Chan’s apology for not doing better for Canada.
We saw only a few of the stories from the Olympics. For every Chan, Osmond or Charles Hamelin, there are countless other Olympians from Canada, 221 to be exact. Compare that to Iceland, which sent just five athletes to Sochi.
I can’t argue that the allure of the Olympics is about being the best in the world — to say you are a gold medallist is pretty special.
But if you can say you got a silver or a bronze, or that you are now ranked 13th in the world, or that you represented your country as well as you could even if a split-second shift means you crashed out of competition, you are still doing better than the rest of us who cheer from the sidelines.
If your Olympic performance, regardless of medal outcome, means one person decides to do something more physical in their life, then you are a gold medal winner regardless.
Martha Muzychka is a writer and
consultant living in St. John’s.