Games were very good — nearly great

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VANCOUVER — Instead of ‘Own the Podium,’ the slogan should have been ‘Go For Gold.’

Nicer. More polite. And more accurate, it turns out.

If we’d called it Go For Gold, we’d have felt a lot better about what happened during these Games as it was happening.

Hitting double figures in gold medals — by Canadian standards, or anybody else’s standards — equals an absolutely glorious Games.

However, when it comes to total medals, we over-promised and under-delivered.

That was the biggest thing wrong with Vancouver 2010 for Canada. Not that our nation couldn’t manufacture more medals than anybody else, but that we told the world we would.

When we look back on these Vancouver Games, let’s celebrate the stories our athletes gave the nation, not point to the failures.

Sure, there should be some serious examination of why things went wrong in specific sports where we expected more medals.

But when the Canadian Olympic Committee gathers the media together Sunday before the gold-medal hockey game for the Games-ending evaluation and analysis, let’s hear Marcel Aubut, Michael Chambers and Chris Rudge blame themselves for the over-promising before blaming the athletes for the under-performing. A lot of that was because of the pressure.

When you examine Canada’s performance at these Olympics, the team jumped off to a better-than-anticipated start with a great conversion rate and a strong finish as predicted, and projected.

You have to wonder how much of the skid in the middle came from the pressure created by the expectations, combined with remarkable success by the Americans at “picking up the loose change,” as one American columnist described scooping up all those bronze medals that will make the difference in the final medal standings.

All that bragging about the medals Canada was going to win, and all the moaning combined with the early glitches in the Games production, dulled the feel-good mood that existed from coast to coast and was spectacularly evidenced by the television numbers.

Heck, by the sales of those red mittens alone.

Here at ground zero, more should have been made of the fabulous fans. They were a big story at the curling venue every draw and the hockey venue for the Canada-Russia game, but the crowds were wonderful every day, every way, everywhere. They cheered for Canada but, at the same time, didn’t only have eyes for Canadians. Athletes from the other countries enjoyed the experience as much as our own.

People from around the world may not have liked the very un-Canadian way we approached these Olympics. But in the end, I think they liked us.

Certainly they liked the fans in the stands, the people in the streets and the friendly volunteers who ranked up there with Lillehammer 1994 and Sydney 2000.

These were a very good, almost great, Games for Canada — by Canada, in Canada.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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