It’s time for me to admit something about my country’s performance at the Beijing Olympic Games: it sucks. It really sucks.
I’m apparently not alone. In response to hordes of comments and complaints over Canada’s less-than-stellar performance at the Olympics, the head of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is telling Canadians to “calm down and relax.”
With the games now in the fifth day and Canada still without a single medal, many of my fellow Canadians are becoming frustrated with our athletes. While the summer sports haven’t exactly been our strong suit, the lack of medal production in China does seem a bit shocking.
Readers of CBC’s website have erupted in days of debate over the Olympics and Canada’s shutout. Okay, so it's more like hours of whining…
Never fear, says Chris Rudge, the director of the COC. "This is the time to support the athletes who are there.” Rudge added that he hoped Canadians would be this vocal about the Canadian athletes when the Olympics aren’t taking place, noting that the support among fans for Canadian swimmers, divers, and other summer sports athletes is less than flattering.
He has a point. Canadians have systematically ignored diving and swimming 365 days a year in favour of hockey, curling, and the illustrious Maple Syrup Races. Perhaps our incessant complaining over the lack of production from these athletes would be better served had it come from a more consistent fanbase instead of a slew of fair-weathered Canucks.
Rudge told the CBC’s unfortunately-named Heather Hiscox that more money would be sent into the system for these athletes so that the level of training and competition could be enhanced. It is also true that, for a relatively wealthy country, our contributions to athletes of the sunnier and wetter sports tend to be a little slight.
“You don’t throw in the towel yet,” Rudge concluded.
While I still hold strong to the fact that the lack of medals for my fellow Canadians certainly sucks, I’m starting to see the bigger picture. It is true that Canadian support for sports other than hockey sucks. And it is also true that Canadian funding for amateur Olympic athletes also sucks. Furthermore, it’s true that the Canadian athletes leaving it all in the pool or on the mat most certainly don’t suck.
So, in the spirit of the games, maybe it’s best to focus on what former Canadian rowing great Silken Laumann had to say to CBC Newsworld:
“Canadians are expecting medals; we like to know we're doing as well as countries like Australia, but I think we need to take a step back. For instance, looking at what's going on in the pool, sure we haven't won a medal yet, but there are a lot of our swimmers who have set Canadian records, who have had personal-best performances, and that's worth something, and I think we should be proud of how our athletes are doing.”
Personal bests and great performances are, indeed, worth a lot. Perhaps instead of incessantly bitching about how much it sucks to not have a medal by the fifth day of competition, we should be cheering our athletes on for trying their best, competing with heart and integrity, and representing Canada with pride and dignity.
That, or Go China?