As the Sochi Olympics cruise to a finale later this week, we’ve found ourselves subjected to an endless onslaught of analysis and judgement from the media with respect to Canada’s Olympic team. The lofty goals set by the Own the Podium campaign prior to the start of the Sochi games was to “contend for #1 in Olympic medal count and top three in gold medal paralympic count.”
After a strong start, the medal count slowed down last week, as a few of Canada’s hopefuls missed the mark. Early in the second week of the games, Canada’s medal count sat at 14 – six silver, four gold and four bronze, placing us in fifth spot.
It appears that Canada may not reach the Own the Podium goal set for these Olympics, which may be a reason for the media hand wringing we are being subjected to. But is it really that important?
Our athletes have seen steadily improving results in the games over the past 20 years or so, and much of that success has probably come from public funding for our athletes.
The program has no doubt helped get the athletes to the point where they can compete effectively for a podium spot, but we think it’s unfair – and unnecessary – to put more pressure on our athletes by putting so much emphasis on a “medal haul.”
From what we’ve seen so far, our athletes have competed very effectively.
Sport being what it is, there are always going to be upsets, and expectations that exceed or fail to make the grade. It happens to the best of athletes, in every nation, and no amount of spending or training can make up for the unexpected twists of fate or changes of fortune that make such compelling stories at each Olympic games.
At the end of the day, we say it isn’t the medal count at all that is most important when it comes to the Olympics – it’s having a game spirit, and if our athletes have shown that, they’ve done all they needed to do.