It's Canada's time to shine

'We're going to be nice in winning'

By

VANCOUVER – No more Mr. Nice Guy. And no more Mr. Shy Guy.

On the eve of playing host to the biggest show in sport, our nation took the tone of that Coal Harbour fog horn which, during the Olympics, plays the first four notes of O Canada at noon here every day.

“We are going to be the best hosts ever. We're going to be hosts to the planet. But there are things where there's no compromise. These Games are ours! And we're going to own the podium!”


"We're still going to be nice, but we're going to be nice in winning," says outgoing COC president Michael Chambers. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)

Canadian Olympic Committee president-elect Marcel Aubut said at our nation's official press conference here Thursday.

Never has Canada stepped up in front of the world at an Olympics and made such bold statements, woven with confidence and/or cockiness.

In a media scrum after the hour-long Go Canada, I asked the former owner of the Quebec Nordiques if he had a number of medals Canada would win in order to accomplish his virtual guarantee.

“Whatever number is necessary to be No. 1,” he said.

When asked by this columnist after the formal press conference if he meant to sound so, well, un-Canadian, he expounded and expanded on his statements, taking it even further.

“We should never be shy anymore. We should never be shy to say we want to be No. 1 ever again!

“These Olympics should bring on a change of attitude. There is no use saying we are going to go there and do our best. We will show here that we have the taste for it and the desire for it and we should not be shy to say it. We have the confidence to say it and the feeling we'll go there to accomplish it, not just for these Games but for every Games.”

Aubut say it's his role to put the money where his mouth was Thursday.

“That's my job as the new leader. I'm pretty good to raise money. There's no way I want to go back. We proved in Torino that we had a good recipe. Now we're going to improve it.

And we're going to continue it. We're going to have a winning environment. Whatever the situation, there's going to be no quitting here.”

In the formal part of the press conference a female writer from Seattle asked if Canada was at risk of losing the image of being nice people.

“We're still going to be nice,” said outgoing COC president Michael Chambers.

“But we're going to be nice in winning.

“Our goal is to finish on top. If you don't reach, you don't grasp. I assure you, our team is ready.

“We think we're going to top the medal count. But it will be winning with respect and winning with honour.”

Did we really need Canada's outgoing and incoming grand poobahs to pile one last heaping helping of pressure on our athletes the day before the opening ceremonies?

Chef de mission Nathalie Lambert said the Canadian athletes have had their successes on the way to Vancouver 2010 and can handle it.

“They have the confidence they can deliver again on demand. I think our team is ready and is going to rise up to the challenge,” she said.

“They can't wait for it to start. We're already a very inspired team,” she said of the 206 member group with only 112 rookies.

“I can not believe it starts (today) and that I am the one who is standing here as the chef de mission and that we have now come to a new time here where we can say we want to be No. 1,” said Lambert.

Obviously she hasn't given it much thought about standing there at the end if we're not.

MORE FROM TERRY JONES

POLL