Second place still impressive

ALISON KORN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

And, here we go -- criticizing athletes who haven't won, but are still proud of their performances.

As my valued colleague Steve Buffery asks, "Are we satisfied with silver?" He's not. He's wrong.

The answer to whether we should be satisfied with silver is, it depends. Depends on whether the athlete did all they could and had a brilliant performance, or choked. Jennifer Heil's silver medal moguls race Saturday was awesome -- it just happened Hannah Kearney of the U.S. was a touch better -- so Heil is justifiably proud of her run.

Not thrilled with coming second, mind you, but proud of her performance. Get the difference?

Alas, Buffery doesn't, calling Heil's "gracious, magnanimous and enthusiastic" comments since her race "kind of frightening."

He wishes she would be more like swimmer Victor Davis, who used to throw fits upon losing. But, hello? Showing some class does not mean she doesn't care. Not all winners are brats.

No, what's frightening is not Heil's outlook, but that Buffery can't grasp this point: If the silver medal represents Heil's accomplishment, then it's OK for her to be proud of it. And to say so.

Of course Heil was furious at losing. Could anyone misinterpret her demeanor on the podium? She looked ill. Like she wanted to vanish. But pretty quickly it sunk in that she'd performed rather well. Fans agree.

"We are so touched by all your positive messages!" wrote Heil's coach and boyfriend Dom Gauthier on Twitter. "I am so happy people understand how amazing she was on and off the hill!"

Meanwhile, Heil's gold-medal winning teammate Alexandre Bilodeau was the first one to reach Heil on the phone after her run, telling her she needs to leave with her head held high after her performance.

"She's done so much hard work, she won a silver medal at the Olympics, it's really not bad, it's really good," Bilodeau said. "In three Olympics she ended up fourth, first and second."

And did that in an event that lasts only 25 seconds for women, 23 seconds for men, every four years, he noted.

"It's not like we get a second day tomorrow," Bilodeau said. "We don't have a second event. It's today, it's not tomorrow."

Bilodeau also defended the Own The Podium program that some other countries have criticized as un-Canadian and arrogant.

"We definitely didn't come as Canadians to finish second at the Games," Bilodeau said. "Own The Podium brought the best out of the athletes."

Bilodeau said he "won the lottery" by having the chance to participate in a home Olympics and then won it again by becoming the first Canadian Olympic gold medallist on home soil. Both he and Heil believe their medals are only the beginning for Canada.

Should we be satisfied? Yes. With both of them.

alison_korn@hotmail.com


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