Priding ourselves

Although the Olympic flame has been extinguished, Canada’s sense of national pride has been ignited

I have discovered a newfound sense of national pride and patriotism after Canada’s tremendous success at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. I am sure many Canadians have had similar feelings.

No event on Canadian soil has ever united this nation together or has had such an impact as the Olympics have. We may not have “owned the podium,” but the Olympics is not all about winning the most medals.

These Olympics especially, since they took place in Vancouver, have ignited a new appreciation for Canada. The Olympics mean more than just the amount of medals a given country wins. They are about the stories behind the athletes who won them, about what they have accomplished to get to this point in their careers and about how they demonstrate determination, dedication and courage.

Even though Canada placed third in the overall medal count with 26 medals (Germany came second and the United States first), the country still broke many records that have more value than just winning the most medals. Canada broke the record for possessing the most gold medals (14) ever won by a single country in any Winter Olympics. Canada also won more medals in total (26) than it has ever won in any Winter or Summer Olympic Games. These are records to be proud of.

The stories of our many medal-winning athletes have touched Canadians across the country. In my opinion, there were four defining Canadian Olympic moments.

The hockey final was the ultimate Canadian Olympic moment. The men’s hockey team triumphed over the United States in the gold medal game, where Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in overtime, making it 3-2 after a tied game. Across the country, 16.6 million people watched the entire game and 26.5 million watched some part of the game, making it the most watched television broadcast ever in Canadian history. National pride overflowed.

When Alex Bilodeau won Canada’s first gold medal in men’s moguls, it was a proud moment for Canada. His story touched many, as his older brother Frederic, who suffers from cerebral palsy, cheered Bilodeau on from the sidelines during the performance. Bilodeau said that his brother has been his primary source of inspiration throughout his life.

Figure skater Joannie Rochette winning bronze only two days after her mother died of a heart attack was a truly touching story. She was also awarded the Terry Fox Award for embodying the same spirit as Fox, after she demonstrated determination and courage in the face of pain.

Finally, it was amazing to see Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue scoring gold after their flawless performance in ice dancing. At only ages 20 and 22, they are the youngest Olympic ice dancing champions in history. They were also the first North American couple ever to win gold since ice dancing became an Olympic event in 1976.

These are the first Olympics that I have watched religiously, capturing my attention from beginning to end. They have instilled in me a new appreciation for our country and pride for all that we have accomplished. I never grew tired of hearing our national anthem.

We may not have reached first place in the total medal count, but Canada accomplished so much more. With the records that we broke, combined with the emotional and inspiring stories and the victories of so many athletes, these Olympics have truly been amazing.

I am so proud to be Canadian.

Brittany Maria Thiessen is a sociology and criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg.

Published in Volume 64, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 25, 2010)

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