I've always been disinterested with the Summer/Winter Olympics, (excluding Men's hockey) as I'm sure many people are. To me it just always seemed kind of lame (for lack of a better word). While I always respected the tremendous athletes that show up to these events, I've never found it to be anything but outdated......until 2010.
What with all the commercials we've seen about "bringing a nation together" and "sharing the triumph", I may risk putting myself in that very corny category by saying I have never witnessed such an amazing display of camaraderie as this entire country's efforts in pooling it's support for these great athletes. In past years, I remember seeing the stereotypical commercials about Canadian Olympians and their "quest for gold" and I would find myself switching the channel until it was over. Maybe because it was so far removed from home, it just didn't seem important.
But now, with the Olympics having taken place in our own backyard, I feel it in full force. It takes me back to 2002 in High School when me and 1200 other students all stood in the main atrium of our school (during class) watching Canada play hockey on a 20 inch TV screen stationed in the middle, and where were all the teachers? Right there cheering with us. Where else in the world can you say that they do that? At the time, maybe I just felt it was so normal that it wasn't anything spectacular. But now, looking back, the feeling of knowing that you and your classmates, and some 30 million other people are glued to their television screens to cheer for the same goal, for the same reason, is something so comforting it's hard to put into words.
There’s no doubt that the Olympics didn’t get off to the great start we were all hoping for. The tragic loss of Nodar Kumaritashvili on the first day certainly brought a cloud over the opening ceremonies. The Canadians stayed resilient though, and with Alexandre Bilodeau’s historic gold medal, the floodgates were opened. All eyes were on us, and this nation was taken by storm.
While those across the world will see the display of Canadian pride as respectable and in some cases even remarkable, none of them will truly know the wide array of emotions that captured Canadians everywhere. From the intense relief when the Gold medal was hung around Bilodeau’s neck, to the anguish of the Men’s Hockey team’s preliminary round loss to the U.S, and most exclamatorily the tears that filled all of our eyes as Joannie Rochette skated her way to a Bronze medal. These emotions were felt and shown in every event at the Olympics. Win or lose, these athletes had an entire nation behind them.
All that brought us to the moment we were waiting for: a Gold medal showdown between two of the biggest rivals in the Hockey universe. The first match against the U.S. did not go as expected to say the least. Though a lot of people in the American media feel Canadians didn’t give them the credit they deserved by blaming Martin Brodeur for the loss – that couldn’t be less true. The U.S. played a solid game defensively, were opportunistic, and Ryan Miller was outstanding. We as a nation were stunned, and the blame-game wasn’t to take away anything from the Americans, we just have so much pride in our position as a hockey superpower that we tend to panic when that reputation is threatened. None-the-less we were eager to prove that we had what it takes and couldn’t be happier to prove it against the same team that beat us. I’m sure it crossed the minds of so many of us that wouldn’t it be so perfectly fitting for Sidney Crosby to score the winning goal in the Gold medal game. To witness that exact feat come true made an entire nation erupt, as if to say what a perfect ending to a life-changing 17 days. To put it into perspective for any non-Canadians reading this: Yonge Street in downtown Toronto (the longest street in the world) has been shut down due to people flooding the streets in celebratory fashion after the overtime finish.
While Canada has such a diverse society, so many of us consider ourselves one thing above all: Canadian. My parents both emigrated to Canada as teenagers, and while we have a strong cultural background, all of us huddle in front of the TV screen to watch Canada succeed and to take pride in being a part of this great country. These Olympics have shown me what it means to be part of something, and what it means to feel patriotic.
People around the world say we lack an identity. The most they can come up with is that we are a "cultural mosaic." I say that our identity is something so apparent and so simple it can be described in one word: unified. We as a population are the most unified place on Earth regardless of the many cultures that inhabit it. The Vancouver Olympics have been the perfect venue to showcase this sentiment, and have shown the rest of the world how marvelous of a nation we truly are.
GO CANADA GO!