At first we were staring at an embarrassing goose egg as countries such as Togo and Uzbekistan were putting medals up on the board while Canadian athletes were coming short of realizing even bronze medals at the Beijing games.
Canadians, including your humble blogger here, were doing a gut-check; what was the cause of our poor showing at this year’s summer Olympics? Was it the cold Canadian climate, a sense of muted confidence, a culture that emphasizes equal outcomes over victory?
Turns out that our sports weren’t scheduled for the first week.
The National Post includes a summary and an interesting political angle,
Under the headline, “Summer Games Leaves Canada Out in the Cold,” a piece in The New York Times — filled with smarmy quotations from Canadian sports writers such as: “We’re being trampled by Mongolians,” or “Fourth is the new bronze” — had a few yucks at our expense.
Then the worst thing of all happened: The Prime Minister promised Canadians that we are a second-week team, and the medals would start coming soon. Great, a politician’s promise. Now the medals would never happen. There was only one problem.
Within an hour, between 4:30 and 5:30 a. m. Eastern time — three Canadian medals had been won. With a gold, silver and bronze, Canada had hit for the cycle on a tough day to be a columnist in Beijing.
That’s how fast it turned around this weekend in China — in about 55 minutes, by our count. Surely, the about-face came too fast for Canadian papers that go to press at about 10 a. m. Beijing time, with a day’s events ahead to make a sports writer’s observations sound even more foolish than usual. By the time the Sunday sun went down in Beijing, there were four more medals.
Let’s hope Harper’s still calling the shots (and doing colour commentary) in 2010.