Reflecting on the Olympic Winter Games

This is the part about the Olympics that I really don’t like – when it’s over. Sure, I will get some sleep again after trying daily to fit in two to three hours of TV time that I do not have, but I miss it when it’s gone. Yes, there are other sports broadcasts and other things I could watch I suppose, but nothing is the Olympics.

For all of its flaws – politics, judged sports, bad policy, etc., the Olympics remain as the best sporting event in my mind. You can see it in the athletes too. Many of them are world champions in the annual event within their sport, but who really cares?

Nobody watches those events, nobody hears about them, and they are not the same.

So what is it that we all love so much? Why did nearly every single Canadian I know get up Sunday morning at 5 a.m. to watch a hockey game? Why would the bars all be allowed to open at 5 a.m., and be standing room only? Because it’s the Olympics. It’s once every four years. It’s special.

And it’s more than that it’s the stories of athletes rising above all odds to make it to the podium. It’s about the sportsmanship, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. It’s being human, on display for all of us to enjoy. I find it sad to realize that I will never be an Olympian, I just never found anything I was good at to get me there, so I enjoy through the athletes that represent our great frozen north.

There were some amazing moments again this Olympics that made me proud to be Canadian, and I present them in no particular order.

Gilmore Junio giving his spot to Denny Morrison, who went on to win silver in the 1,000m speedskating. To me, that says so much about sportsmanship and about wanting your country to do well. It is the most unselfish thing I can imagine as an athlete and it made my heart swell with pride!

The cross-country ski coach for Canada who ran down a couple of hills to give a replacement ski to the Russian skier whose ski had broken. A few things got me mushy on this one – the fact that the Russian skier refused to quit had me all choked up. The determination of absolutely refusing to quit, even when the situation was flat out impossible, and then, a gift from our coach made it in fact, possible. To finish last, but to finish with dignity in front of the home crowd.

Alex Bilodeau not only winning another gold medal in freestyle skiing, but how he prepared mentally. Instead of thinking about defending his Vancouver 2010 gold medal, he just focused on this one race, with nothing to lose.

That is a life lesson for all; that the past is gone, and only this moment matters. Also seeing him share his medal with his disabled brother, and being a gracious winner, acknowledging that up and comer Mikael Kinsbury pushed him to be his best.

Bobsledders Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse could have given up when they fell behind, but they didn’t. They kept pushing and turned a slow start into a gold medal, showing that you never give up, ever. Even if you are behind, you finish, because you just never know.

The ladies hockey team showed that in spades! They were down two goals with barely any time left, and they never stopped pushing, never stopped trying.

A lucky post, a few great goals and a powerful overtime meant another

gold.

People who weren’t supposed to be a medal threat, coming on strong – like the hockey team from Latvia. Proving that huge pay cheques aren’t everything, that hard work and heart matter most.

Ron MacLean said a quote, “Under pressure, you do not rise to the occasion; rather you sink to your level of training.” Turns out it is written on the wall at the former Naval Fighter Weapons School in the U.S. and witnessing athletes like the curling and hockey teams you can see what hard work and training can bring. It’s easy to do well when everything is easy, but when the world is watching and things aren’t going your way, it is your training that will get you through.

Sisters, brothers, families, friends and people celebrating the best of being human. When the ladies hockey game was on, we shut the music off in our gym, cranked up the TV’s and everyone gathered and watched the last 20 minutes of the gold medal game, it’s like they felt us there cheering them on, and we all celebrated being Canadian together and I for one, loved it!

Maybe we can’t be in the Olympics, but we sure can benefit from them.

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.

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