Own (top of) The Podium

Canada can truly say ‘We’re No. 1’ after dominating gold-medal count

By ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

All those critical of Own the Podium, be damned — we did it.

We owned these games.

Oh sure, we rented an inordinate amount of time to silver and bronze medal winners from the U.S. and Germany to up their medal count. But as Jennifer Heil’s disappointment attested to when she settled for silver the first day of competition, Canada is no longer aiming simply to be top three — we want to be No. 1.

We are.

The IOC sees it that way, too, as it has always listed the medal standings by colour, and Canada rightfully finished tops with 14 gold — a Winter Games record.

After being kept off the top step the previous two Olympic Games we hosted, no other nation won more Olympic events than Canada in Vancouver, and, thus, no country has ever had a more successful Winter Games.

Yesterday’s hockey win was not only the record-breaking gold but an exclamation mark on what is Canada’s finest hour.

Despite weather issues and a training-run death hours before an opening ceremony punctuated with a now-humourous technical glitch, organizers, volunteers and spectators did us proud by staging the most brilliant of events, showing the world daily just how beautiful our country and our people are.

Anyone fortunate enough to spend any amount of time at these Games will tell you they’ve never been more proud to be Canadian. Rightly so.

These Games mark a turning point in national pride, with Canadians coast to coast wearing our colours and waving flags like never before. Not in an obnoxious, in-your-face kind of way like, well, some other countries. But in a wonderfully gracious, respectfully proud fashion.

It remains to be seen if Stephen Harper is daft enough to dampen this momentum by abandoning Own The Podium funding as expected in Thursday’s budget.

Either way, Bravo, Canada — we’re world leaders.

In even more ways than we thought possible.

Now more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering whose bright idea it was to hand out dandelions to all medal winners.

Around the horn

Am I the only one who can’t believe the incompetence of officials who didn’t follow Shea Weber’s blast through the net against Germany by checking the netting? Surely if the puck found a hole in the net, you’d want to fix it ... If there was any question as to whether the Flames are pushing to host an outdoor classic next year, it was answered in the season-ticket holders renewal package, which confirms an application to the league for a “special game” to be hosted outside the Saddledome ... Just wondering if Hockey Canada has thanked the Canadian Olympic Committee yet for forcing them to change their jersey logo, prompting an Olympic version that has been more popular than underwear the last 17 days.

Parting gifts

The Olympics has the power to tear down political barriers, bring cultures together, unite a nation and even get Rod Black to shave his moustache. Incredible ... Wrestling icon Ric Flair was assaulted by his wife last week. Apparently, she did what every other non-wrestling fan has wanted to do after hearing the annoying “Woooo” he made famous ... What’s tougher for LaDainian Tomlinson to swallow — being dumped by the Chargers or now being coveted by the Detroit Lions? ... Who has less credibility: Mark McGwire or his estranged brother writing a book aimed at profiting from his brother’s sordid steroid tale? ... Paul Henderson, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby. Beautiful.

POLL