C'mon, Canada, admit it — we're great

By STEVE TILLEY, QMI Agency

On TV and online, the last couple of days have been all about examining what the Olympic Games have meant to Canada as a country, a culture, a sporting nation. There has been much talk about pride, about emotion, about owning the podium in spirit if not in letter, and how Vancouver 2010 has changed us all.

Normally I hate these sorts of slick, forced retrospectives. They feel contrived and self-congratulatory, in a “look, we don’t suck after all!” sort of way. And yet this time it’s true, especially with CTV’s retrospective essay, written by journalist Stephen Brunt, which pretty much encapsulates the games perfectly with only the smallest dose of schmaltz. (You can watch it here: http://bit.ly/olywrap.)

Public pride doesn’t come naturally to Canadians, but you know what? Sometimes we just have to awkwardly embrace the fact that we’re kind of awesome. It’s annoying that we have to be told that by the media (and yes, that includes me), but we’ve earned it, and we deserve it.

Just ask NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams — not to be confused with CTV’s Olympics point man Brian Williams — who wrote a lovely thank-you letter to Canada as he packed up to head home from the games. (You can read it here: http://bit.ly/brianthanks.) In it, he thanks Canada for everything from our courtesy to our sportsmanship to “your unique TV commercials — for companies like Tim Hortons — which made us laugh and cry.”

And mostly, “for welcoming the world with such ease and making lasting friends with all of us.”

You’re welcome. And it was our pleasure.

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You’d think curling made its debut at these Winter Games, what with all the head-scratching attention it’s had over the last two weeks. Oh look, it’s a weird sport where people slide rocks down ice and sweep and yell funny words!

The latest guy to poke gentle fun at curling is none other than Jay Leno, a man who does not exactly exude originality. Check out his promo segment for this week’s schedule, in which he’ll be interviewing U.S. Olympians Lindsey Vonn, Shaun White and Apolo Ohno on his show: http://bit.ly/jaycurls. Hmm, that leaf blower thing is not a bad idea.

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In the first few days of the Winter Games, some members of the international media declared these Olympics a disaster, a debacle, the worst of all time. None more loudly than certain outlets of the British press, who seized on every mishap, large and small. From the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili to the weather woes to transportation delays, the U.K. press just wouldn’t give us a break.

And then a funny thing happened: people stopped caring about the little stuff and just let the Games happen. The weather started cooperating a bit, the snafus were fewer and farther between, and our exuberant shouts drowned out their bitter grumbling.

The Guardian’s Andy Bull wrote an interesting blog about this phenomenon, essentially saying that his countrymen hate the Winter Games for two reasons: Brits hate winter, period, and they’ve had an absolutely terrible games. “Of course we are having a miserable Olympics,” Bull writes. “Misery is what we do in winter.”

It’s sad but true. A country with twice Canada’s population has notched just one medal at these games: Amy Williams’s gold in women’s skeleton. Latvia won more medals than Great Britain. Estonia and Kazakhstan tied the Brits for overall medals.

The Summer Olympics are Great Britain’s strength, and we’ll undoubtedly see them excel on home turf in London 2012. And if there are glitches and snafus and delays in those Summer Games ... well, we might share the odd smug glance among ourselves. But we’ll be sympathetic and supportive. Because, as it’s been pointed out so very often over the last 17 days, we are Canadian. And today, that means just a little bit more.

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