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Medal Madness

It’s very odd to live in a country that takes the Winter Olympics seriously. Last week I heard an interviewer on the BBC World Service questioning whether a programme of events which only really attracts multiple entries from about a dozen countries could even call itself an Olympics. Certainly, the British do not get very excited about the Winter Olympics. That is probably partly a legacy from the days when the entire British team pretty much had to be independently wealthy and be able to live in Switzerland or Austria all year around. I think British interest was only really piqued by the Figure Skating when Torvill and Dean were involved and maybe Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards’s exploits in the ski-jump when the games were held in Calgary in 1988. They changed the rules to make sure there would never be another lovable loser like Eddie the Eagle at the Winter Olympics. But here in Canada where the winters are long and very snowy, it’s a different story. There are lots of opportunities to ski and skate. The Canadian ice hockey, which is just called “hockey” here in the Great White North, teams are in with a good shot of gold medals. At the last Olympics, in Vancouver, there was a concerted effort to boost Canada’s medal standings. It was called Own the Podium. It struck me as a little Un-Canadian. Olympic competition is pretty much the realm of professionals. It has little to do with sportsmanship and much to do with money. The Canadians can’t and won’t compete with the kind of budgets deployed by the United States and Russian teams . I can’t help feeling that Canada would be better served if the team was made up of competitors who played fair and accepted defeat with grace and good humour. Sadly, I suspect that kind of event participant at Sochi will be rarer than Canadian gold medals.



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