What an Olympics!

What mixed emotions I am feeling as the 2010 Winter Olympics have come to a close.  I am so thrilled by the competitions and performances of the past two weeks, impressed and proud of the athletes and countries I love, and sad that it is all over.   I LOVE, LOVE the Olympics!   If my life allowed, I would sit for hours and watch the Olympics.  I love it all - the heart-pounding competition, the personal interest stories and athlete spotlights, the team camaraderie, the patriotism and love of country that drive these athletes.  
I am so fascinated and inspired by the athletes and am amazed by the determination and dedication that these athletes put into their sport.  Four years of grueling effort and sacrifice, often for an event lasting under one minute.  Of course these athletes compete in several other competitions in between the Olympics - nationals, world champions,etc.  But I have to believe that an olympic medal - an olympic GOLD medal - is the ultimate quest and goal of every athlete.  The crowning jewel of their accolades and accomplishments.

So, back the 2010 Olympics.  I didn't get to watch as much as I would have liked, but here are some of the highlights and standouts to me.

A Golden Ending! 

What a heart-pounding, pulse-racing, covering-my-eyes-sneaking-peeks-through-my-fingers hockey game yesterday.  I wanted Canada to get that gold medal sooooo badly!  For a few reasons.  The first being that hockey is incredibly popular and important to Canadians, so I think that was the medal that mattered most to many people.  Second, what a great ending to a great Olympic games for Canada!  Third, I really wanted to see those Canadian players win gold on their home ice.  That's not something that many people ever get to experience, so what an amazing feeling for them!  And fourth, Canada winning gold at that game would allow them to set the record for the most gold medals - 14!!! - ever won at a single Winter Olympic games.  Do you know how amazing that is for Canada?  The two previous times they hosted the Olympics - they did not win ONE SINGLE gold medal!  So to walk away with the most golds ever!!! - Crazy and exhilarating!!!  Anyway, what an intense, exciting and perfect ending to an amazing Olympic games.  I am so, so thrilled for the success of the Canadian athletes!!!

O, O, O Canada!  

Although I have now lived in the US longer than I have lived in Canada, I am, and always will be, a Canadian.  I love the US and am so thrilled by their success and love this country dearly and will always route for the U.S......unless they are in competition with Canada.

I am also very happy by the success of the US Olympians and was excited for them to set a record of winning the most total medals in a single winter Olympic games.

Congratulations to both of "my" countries!!!

Watching the NBC coverage, I think everyone was pretty familiar with the stories and efforts of Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn, Apollo Ohno, Shani Davis, Bode Miller, Steven Holcomb, etc.  But, obviously, there wasn't much, if any, coverage of the Canadian athletes.  So, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite and standout Canadian athletes:

Favorite Olympian (from any country!!!)  -  Clara Hughes of Canada.  Hands down!!!!

Clara Hughes, Canadian speedskater,  wins bronze at 2010 OlympicsClara Hughes is donating her bronze-medal bonus to help children in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. After winning gold in 2006, she donated $10,000 to Right to Play.So, most of you may not know much about her since the coverage here is, obviously, done with a US focus.  So, let me tell you why I think she is amazing!!!  Clara Hughes is 37 1/2 years old - pretty darn old for an athlete :)    This is her 5th Olympic games and she is THE ONLY Olympian in history EVER to win multiple medals in both the summer (cycling) and winter (speed-skating) games.  (There have been 4 other Olympians to win a medal at both summer and winter - but she is the only to win multiple in both)  The last race of her career, earlier this week, gave her a bronze medal - at the age of 37, ending a 20-year career.  I was beyond thrilled to see her skate one of the best races of her life, setting a new track record in front of a home crowd. (The record was shortly broken by the eventual gold & silver medalists of the race)  What a phenomenal way to end a phenomenal career!  She also got to be the flag-bearer for Canada in the opening ceremonies.   I am so inspired  her and the more I find out about her I am amazed at what an incredible human being she is.  After winning a gold in Torino, she donated $10,000 of her own money (she did not receive a winner's bonus) to a humanitarian organization that uses sports to encourage development of under-privileged youth.  She also just donated her $10,000 winner's bonus from her 2010 bronze medal, to another charity that helps youth with addiction problems by introducing them to challenging outdoor activities.  What an inspiring athlete and human being!

Olympic Bravery - Joannie Rochette 

A Canadian figure skater, whose mother died 2 days before she skated her way to a bronze medal.  Joannie's 55-year old mother died of a heart-attack shortly after arriving in Vancouver to watch her daughter skate.  Many people thought Joannie would pull-out of the competition, but instead she put on a brave face and skated her way to a bronze medal.  I didn't watch, but read that her performance in the Sat. night Exhibition Gala was also phenomenal and moving and that she skated with passion and emotion, clearly showing her love of the sport.  Her performance ended with the crowd on their feet.  The courage and hope she displayed in the face of her hardship during these Olympics, captured many people's hearts.  Also, because of her heart, and bravery she was asked to carry the Canadian flag in the closing ceremonies.

Thriving on Adversity Pays Off - Jasey-Jay Anderson

Canada's Jasey Jay Anderson celebrates with his two daughters after winning goldCanadian gold clubA 34-year old blueberry farmer and dad to 2 little girls, doesn't fit the typical profile of an Olympian.  But in his 4th Olympics Jasey-Jay finally got a seemingly elusive olympic medal - a gold, nontheless!!!  He has won several World Championship and World Cup titles - but has never finished higher than 5th place in his 3 prior Olympics.   He is Canada's most decorated snowboarder and won gold in the parallel giant slalom on Saturday. He said he was so excited to share his medal with his daughters (above!)I love what he said about trying to pursue gold in his last race of his 20-year career.   "I just thought a true athlete thrives on adversity," he said. "So, I tried to be a true athlete."There's no better feeling."  

So, now it is all done for 2 more years, until the Summer Olympics!  What a great two weeks of excitement in Vancouver and I'm looking forward to 2012 in London!  

1 comment:

Nathan & Michelle Watabe said...

I've got Joannie's free skate from Sat. night recorded on my DVR if you want to come watch it. I was moved to tears. (Not that hard to do these days, but would have been crying regardless of my hormonal state :).)