Thursday, October 22, 2015

Win Canada Win!

[This article was originally written in September. October edits are italicized.]

Recently I have been remembering a blog post I wrote back in 2009 entitled "Lose Canada Lose". You can read the post here.

At the time, the media was being especially harsh on our athletes who were not performing up to par at World Championship competitions.

At the time, I thought no problem. Here's what I wrote:
For me, I remember too many teams and athletes arriving at the Olympics as World Champions only to lose at the Olympics. Brian Orser won the Worlds in 1987...and won silver at the Olympics in 1988. Kurt Browning won the Worlds in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993 but did not medal at two Olympic Games in 1992 and 1994 while defending champion. Elvis Stojko won the Worlds in 1997 and did not win the Olympics in 1998. Adam van Koeverden although well decorated, inexplicably faded in the 1000m in 2008. Perdita Felicien hit the first hurdle and fell in 2004. Jeremy Wotherspoon fell at the start of his race in 2002.
"Earlier in the winter, it seemed like our athletes could do no wrong. The "Own the Podium" funding seemed to have given us many great results (exceeding our expectations) going into the Olympics, but secretly I was worried about the expectations on our athletes would be too much for them."
Looking back at these memories, I wasn't following athletes year round like I am now. I didn't see athletes winning World Cups and then not winning at the World Championships. All I was seeing, which was what mainstream media was showing me were athletes who were World Champions not winning at the Olympics.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Watching World Championships, World Cups and even National Championships nowadays (televised or more often livestreamed), I appreciate those World Championships a lot more than I did then.

How many people can win a World Championship who doesn't and then also don't win the Olympics? Wouldn't they love to be known at least as World Champion?

I was SO excited to see Derek Drouin and Shawn Barber win the World Championships in high jump and pole vault. No Canadian had achieved those feats. In my mind at the time, Olympic glory is not guaranteed so how cool is it that they are World Champions?

The other side of the coin are World Championships recently where Olympic qualifying was on the line. A top 6 or 8 at the Canoe Kayak Worlds guaranteed the country a spot in Rio 2016. Canada qualified one spot in the K1 200m with Mark De Jonge winning gold at the World Championships. Mark Oldershaw inexplicably (sorry haven't seen media article to explain it) wasn't in the top 6 to qualify a spot. I imagine he was ill. There is no way that was a regular race for him.

[edit: this article explains Mark's performance at Worlds which was a few weeks after his baby was born 3 months premature]

Adam van Koeverden didn't race the 1000m. Again, regular media/Canoe Kayak Canada (in my opinion) should be explaining his absence and whether missing this early Olympic qualifying is normal.

Another example is the rowing qualifying. Many of our teams qualified (4 women and 2 men), but there were some disappointments and I'm hoping those Olympic spots are earned in 2016.

The media and Basketball Canada were very hopeful for Canada's basketball team making it to the Rio Olympics. Two teams would qualify at the Olympic qualifying tournament. They looked poised to get one spot going into the semi final against a team they had beaten by 20 points the previous week but the team did not play the way they did in previous games. They will get one more chance in July to qualify but this tournament had been their best chance.

With all these disappointments recently, I remembered my previous post and felt the need to amend or at least better explain. Lose Canada Lose was only meant for athletes and teams who would not live up to expectations once they arrived at the Olympics. It wasn't meant to prevent athletes from actually qualifying for the Olympics.

Win Canada Win!

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