Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Be Proud of Our Olympians

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Be Proud of Our Olympians

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Be proud of our Olympians

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An editorial from the Waterloo Region Record, published Aug. 14:

Though Canada's Olympic athletes are returning from London with an impressive haul of precious metals, some people back home are mourning the lack of gold in these winnings.

It's the bronze age for summer sports in this country, we're being told by clever, and likely stationary, armchair critics who point out that the single gold medal won by Canada at these Games is our poorest performance since the Montreal Olympics 36 years ago, when the best our athletes could achieve was silver.

Such pessimism is misplaced and insulting to the talents, efforts and achievements of our athletes. It also perverts the meaning and worth of this international competition.

The Olympics are not primarily a numbers count, a ranking of countries on a table according to how many gold, silver and bronze medals their athletes have won. No, though winning matters, the Summer Games are important more because they bring together many of the world's most magnificent athletes from more than 200 nations, men and women of every race and faith, for 17 days of friendly fellowship and peaceful competition. How wonderful that once every four years at these Games, the human race sets aside its political and ideological differences to run side-by-side in the same race, according to the same rules.

At this pre-eminent event, where the level of performance is truly world-class, Canada did itself proud. In the overall medal count, for those who keep track, Canada finished a respectable 13th. The 18 medals our athletes won equalled Canada's performance at the 2008 Beijing Games where this country wound up in 14th place. The only real difference between the two showings was that Canada won two more gold medals in China than it did in Britain. That's hardly enough for anyone to drag out the crying towels.

No one should forget that at this calibre of performance, the difference between first and third is often measured in hundredths of a second. Indeed, an event like this held once every four years is a snapshot in time. The unforeseen injury of one athlete, the unexpectedly long recovery of another, the stomach flu a competitor develops on the day of the marathon -- all these exert a definite, yet unquantifiable, influence over the final outcome. …

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