Monday, August 13, 2012

We OWN the Podium

The games of London are half over and the 'Own the Podium' sports training plan is placing Canada in the solid middle of the pack with such other Olympic mediocrities as Botswana and Tuvalu. The essential difference is that one doesn't hear the Botswanians, or Tuvalese, crowing about how good they are before the actual competition. For a nation that has long prided itself on a quiet can-do spirit, the Great White North has taken to trying to outcrow 'Claghorn Leghorn'. He,  at least, has something to crow about.

We have three media networks 'covering' the games and all indulge, along with our losing athletes,  in various degrees of excuse-making, (or extolling that 'Olympic spirit' that says being there is just as good as winning  - it's participation that counts. If that were the case, why not just have ordinary Joes show up to compete for Canada and screw the contrived 'official' olympic athlete-generating system we have here? I mean, if there are althletes who can show up and take part on their own dime, isn't that better than supporting an athlete to 'train like a bunny' when the best they're capable of  is well-down the records of the world leaders?

Some announcer was talking about how he hoped a 'new generation of Canadian women' would be inspired by  some of our vaunted track stars who, somehow, failed to place anywhere near the medals. Why couldn't a generation of Canadian women be inspired by the Australian runner who placed first? It may be all about the 'glory of the sport',  but there should be a better-than-even expectation of winning,  given the time and resources put into training, keeping and transporting an Olympic team.

Obviously in Canada we're still not doing it right.

I think the first mistake is the 'Own the Podium' idiocy. It first appeared at the last winter games and - even though cold weather sports should be winterland's forte - it proved to be spectacularly emabrassing in some "sure win" events like downhill skiing. Summer Olympics is even spottier for Canadians and going to any place else, with 'owning' anything as a team motto, is just asking for it. Canada's performance has been so abysmal that the national hubris hasn't been talked about since it was used an an excuse for the men's eight being forced into repassage. That they ended up with silver should be more a tribute to the team, than to the 'advisers' who reconstructed the rowing crew and the practice rouitine in order to 'own the podium'. If it ain't busted, etc should work for Olympics, too. Hell, there so much other stuff they've left alone - like an equestrian who's appearing (again) in his Nth olympics and is well past his 'best before' date. Mind you equestrians don't grow on trees, but if you're betting that 'bunty' will be able to coax another gold medal out of a different horse, well you could be ignoring an up-and-comer to keep a 'prestige seat' on the team - filled with an aging bum. What Mark Tewksberry was doing, leading the team, is beyond me. He did, after all, hie off to Australia for some bread-buttering and swim program development that he hasn't been able to repeat here. I guess you take your gold medallists where they may be found.

So far we have one - in women's trampoline - and that came as a shock. For  I don't even think our 'networks' were planning to cover trampoline, as our badminton aces had accidentally been seeded into medal competition when the 'best' were disqualified. A gong - especially a golden one  - was a very pleasant surprise. Let's hope it's an ice-breaker.

Update: Canada's "Own the Podium" committee was proudly announcing that Canada had achieved its collective 'Olympic Dream' by finishing a solid 15th in the number of medals awarded.  They must have been computing total medals like the 12 for the rowing team and the 23 for the soccer side - coaches, etc. What they weren't counting, this time, was gold - for their remained, after all the good times', just the one.

The committee - or Tewksberry - wouldn't 'center her out' by letting her carry the flag at closing. That honor was reserved for the captain of the bronze-winning soccer side - who hasn't just 'lucked into' it.

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