Sunday, February 7, 2010

30 Medals For Canada

It’s time for Canada to announce their presence with authority in the Winter Olympics.

For decades Canadian athletes have just been another name in a long list of forgetful performances on the world’s biggest stage.

This time, the stage is in our own back yard – and we must be ready to answer the call.

If you look back at the history of Canada at the Winter Olympics, you’ll see unachieved goals, mediocre performances and a plethora of 6th and 7th place finishes.

It is time for that to stop.

Each year since the ’84 games in Sarajevo, our medal count has risen – slowly but surely – to its all time high at the last games in Turin with a total of 24.

It is time for us to take the next step.

There’s no reason Canada cannot reach 30 medals in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

We have stood by as Canadians, expecting every year to get better and better during the two wintery weeks of the Olympics, only to have our hopes dashed time and time again.

Whether it’s bad efforts on our part or unexpected finishes from unknown competitors, we have struggled to earn more than double-digit medal totals only four times.

It’s a foregone conclusion that Canada will never be a powerhouse during the Summer Games – even though we once won 44 medals in 1984 in Los Angeles – but you would just have to think that in the Great White North we’d be able to compete in most events during the Winter Games.

It hasn’t been the case until recently.

Not only did we finish in the Top 3 at the Turin Games (behind only Germany and the United States), we tied the 2002 Games for the most gold medals by Canadian athletes with 7.

It’s time to ride that momentum.

There are added pressures in 2010, no question. The Games are on our home turf and the entire world will be watching not only how the Games are operated, but how the host team rises to the occasion.

We don’t have another choice but to succeed.

There has always been the argument that Canada receives very little funding from the Federal Government to practice and train for the Olympic Games and that is the cause for their struggles.

But that funding has gone up recently, as has the request for every day residents to pitch in when they can to help the team.

I know for one that if I am paying 20 dollars for a pair of gloves or 5 dollars for a Canada mug at a gas station – I want a return on my investment.

If you want to show Canadians across the country that our athletes are worth sponsoring and funding, then we need to see some medals around their necks.

We need to take a different approach at these Games than others.

“With Glowing Hearts” shouldn’t be the motto for the 2010 Games, for that they should look no further than Notre Dame Head Coach Dan Devine’s classic line from the movie “Rudy” - “No one comes into our house and pushes us around”.

Sure, it may not as friendly in a spirit-of-the-Games type way, but it’s a message to other countries that if you plan to invade our country on skis, skates, bobsleighs or snowboards that we will not make it easy for you to go home victorious.

Canada has only once hosted the Winter Games – back in 1988 in Calgary – and because of their disappointing finish, has not won a Gold Medal on home turf.

That will change this year.

Predictions range anywhere from 20-28 medals for our country at these Games, I think we can do better.

Our hockey teams are, on paper, the best in either men’s or women’s competition.

We can expect speed skating to again be one of our best events, in fact, Canada has won more medals from speed skating than any other event (28) and with athletes like Christine Nesbitt, Kristina Groves and flag-bearer Clara Hughes among the favourites, we should be able to ensure some medals in this category once again.

Curling is a sport Canada has been consistent in since it secured a spot in the Olympic program, by picking up medals each year.

And you can’t count out a medal here and there in different skiing events and a figure skating medal or two.

206 athletes will represent Canada at the Olympic Games this year and many will set personal best times and experience a magic and excitement that will never be equalled.

Some will leave Vancouver with bruises, not only on their bodies but on their egos.

And others will bask in the glory of hearing the Canadian National Anthem pumped from the speakers of their respective venue for the world to hear.

It’s time for Canada to take the next step.

It’s time for Canada to be a force to be reckoned with.

And there is no better time to do it, than within our own borders.