We Don’t Own the Podium, But That Little Place Just Off to The Right of The Podium? Yeah, That’s Paid in Full.

You have to give the Canadian government credit. It’s not very often that you see any sort of support for amateur athletics in this country (outside of hockey), so when there is some financial support, you can’t really knock it too much. When there is an attempt to create an actual movement; when there is an actual focus and goal that goes hand in hand with that funding, well, that makes it even better. But when you spend $117 million, are the host nation of the Olympics and had far more training time than your competitors on the tracks, courses etc., you’ve got to do a little better than this. True, there are still a lot of events to be played out, so Canada could still do very well in the end, but I seriously doubt we are going to catch the Americans for first.

The thing that kills me about Canadian athletes is talk about “personal bests.” I understand where it comes from, I mean, you can go to the Olympics and know that it will take a miracle for you to win a medal, so if you go there and do better than you ever have before, there is a certain amount of satisfaction that can be gained as an athlete knowing that you brought your best when you had to. The thing is, nobody other than you, your coaches and your family care about your personal best, so just stop talking about it.

Another thing that really needs to stop is Canadian athletes talking so much about how great their competitors are. Guys, newsflash. It’s the OLYMPICS. If your competitors weren’t great, they wouldn’t be at the Olympics (they would probably be back home working on achieving more personal bests). Okay, so the dude from Germany just kicked your ass down the course…what are you going to do to get yourself to that level where you are doing that to other people? What is it going to take so that you can talk about how when you are at your best, nobody can beat you? Until you have that sort of attitude, have fun standing on the side listening to somebody else’s anthem.

What is it about the Olympics that causes our “favourites” to come out flat? How do we have athletes who can win at world championships and tour events and come into the Olympics as one of the favourites and then come up short? We can’t blame it on the pressure of performing at home, because we see this in almost every Olympics. I would think that the home support might even have you more fired up than anything and you would have the benefit of being accustomed to the society. I don’t get it. No matter what the situation, Canadian athletes always seem to have some sad story about why things went wrong. They have to go on TV and apologize to everyone…but they never apologize to themselves for selling themselves short.

Placing 4th (so far) in the Olympics isn’t a terrible thing and considering the funding that goes into the American and German programs, Canada still has a long way to go, but I would just like to see a little more fight, a little more guts from Canada. In the same way that Jon Montgomery was pumped up with his win in Skeleton (now THAT’S a guy who went there to win), you should be a little pissed off if you don’t do what you went there to do.

4 Comments »

  1. avatar Wendy Says:

    I assume it’s the media coverage that makes the Olympics more “important” than all the other sporting events. It places a lot more pressure on athletes than the other events, despite the other events meaning more. Fail at the Olympics, and it becomes front page news that is going to haunt you forever.

    So why does Canada not put up more fight to avoid that? Why do they not only not place sometimes, but actually choke? The poster girl for this is the unfortunately named Perdita Felicien who was our hope, but then just crashed on the track and spent the last Olympics being a commentator. And once they fail, we abandon them.

    I cringed listening to the pre-Olympics predictions and promises of more medals and the horrible suggestion that we’d even beat the US on the podium. Give all that to the public to chew on and, thanks to the wonderful world of the interweb, we will take it an run and then attack when our athletes fail to produce, thus providing more fodder for the media…. viscious circle with the athletes in the middle.

    (btw, if you get a chance, check out buzz.google.com … yes it’s like Twitter etc and I imagine some people use it as such, but I’ve a small group of friends who are actually using it to post real thought provoking and/or amusing things. You might like it.)

  2. avatar Jay Says:

    Yeah, I’m with you on the media hyping this up, but we all bought into it…we all drank the Kool-Aid.

    What bothers me is that hardly any athletes ever just stand up and say, “You know what, I had all of the funding and support I needed to win, I just sucked today and there really isn’t any excuse for it.” I think Eric Guay said something like that (I could be mistaken here), but nobody ever seems to want to just come out and say when they tanked.

    Perdia Felicien is a classic example of choking. Anything outside of the Olympics and she was cash money. Then the big races come and she looks like she’s on Pros vs. Joes…and she’s one of the Joes.

    I commend the notion of putting some dollars into athletics, but thinking that we were going to knock off the Americans was a little lofty.

  3. avatar Wendy Says:

    Before tonight’s hockey game, and before the final medal count, I meant to comment that, while the idea of beating the US on the podium was a lofty and inappropriately inspiring goal, the program did put us on the podium a lot more overall and the personal bests shouldn’t be discounted. It means that we’re on the right track. But is that a surprise? Investing more money in the athletes produces better results. GO figure!

    But now that we’ve actually taken a record for the most gold medals at home, I guess we can say that the Own the Podium didn’t really fail afterall.

  4. avatar Jay Says:

    I think the second week of competition solidified that overall, Own the Podium has been a success. What I would say was not a success was the name of the program. Saying that you are going to own something means that you are going to take complete control, which was misguided. If they had taken a little more time to come up with a program name, I think the way people would have viewed the program would have been different. With the Federal Government wavering on support levels in the near future, they might be wise to change it before the next go around.

    I would still like to see a little more mental toughness from Canadian athletes. I don’t think a lot of Canadian athletes have that killer instinct…yet. Some might say that the Olympics aren’t about having that killer instinct, but I say if you’re going, you should be going to win, otherwise, what’s the point? Sure, you compete and compete fairly, but the whole point of competition is to win, otherwise they wouldn’t hand out medals.

    Let’s be honest though…winning gold in hockey has made everyone happy…we could have tanked as a country and everyone would still have said, “Well, at least we won gold in hockey.” Gotta love being Canadian.

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