Friday, February 5, 2016

6 Months to Rio 2016 Olympics

In 6 months, athletes will walk into Maracanã stadium for the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Part of me is very excited while another part of me is feeling ... uneasy may be the best word to use.

I was just reading my thoughts the week before the 2008 Olympics. I was not excited at that time and it's reassuring to read those thoughts and know that once the Games began, my feelings changed.

Then came the 2010 and 2012 Olympics that I completely looked forward to.

In December 2012, I attended the Dew Tour where 2014 Olympic Qualifying began for the athletes I saw compete in halfpipe and slopestyle. Although I had issues with Russia hosting the Olympics, like I did with Beijing, working with SportCafé leading up to the 2014 Olympics got me an inside view of the excitement. I attended CBC's 100 days to go event and the unveiling of the Team Canada uniforms. I was interviewing athletes as well as the personalities who would be presenting the Games. The 2014 Olympians were the ones I knew the best prior to a Game. Although I was as excited as ever about the medals won, I felt the hurt and disappointment for those athletes who didn't perform up to their expectations more than perhaps I had ever done before.

Following our summer athletes for the past few years leading up to the Pan Am Games and now to Rio, my knowledge of our national team athletes has grown. As wonderful as it is to have followed someone rise up the ranks to become an Olympian, I am starting to recognize that I am cheering for more athletes than there are spots on the Olympic team.

A decade or two ago, we knew the athletes once they were Olympians or perhaps even only when they were medallists. It's much easier today with the coverage given year round for amateur sports fans to know the athletes who are competing at the Olympics and those who just missed making the team.

I attended the trampoline competition at the Pan Am Games. I was excited to see Rosie MacLennan and Karen Cockburn compete and medal at the Games but sad that Sam Sendel who I had followed with the other CIBC Team Next athletes did not qualify. I knew that going into the 2016 Olympics that one of the three wouldn't qualify so if Sam is in, someone else is out. What I did not expect was for two to be out. At the World Championships in the fall, Rosie finished in the top 8 to qualify a spot for Canada at the Olympics. Olympic silver medallist and 2015 Pan Am silver medallist Jason Burnett finished 18th and earned him an opportunity to qualify at the next Olympic qualifying meet. Pan Am gold medallist Keegan Soehn did not make the semi-final and will not compete in Rio (as far as I understand it).

Canada will have one woman and hopefully one man in Rio. In 2012 we had 3 athletes in the top 8 (one medal). In 2008 we had 3 in the top 7 (two medals). Canada winning 4 medals in trampoline at the 2015 Pan Am Games gave me high hopes for our team qualifying 4 athletes for 2016.

After the World Championships, the media celebrated Rosie's qualification and of course they should, but I felt more heartbreak for the others. This is just one example but there are others.

I wrote a blog post last fall about some of the disappointments. You can read it here.

As Olympic qualifying tournaments and meets happen and are scheduled to happen in the months to come, I am almost feeling more nervous for these events than the Games themselves.

I am not saying that going to the Olympic Games is the dream. Of course the athletes want to go and compete for the medals, but I find not going when you are good enough to qualify is heartbreaking.

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