Fri, September 20, 2013

Mark Tewksbury happy with Canadian Olympic results so far

By Rejean Tremblay, QMI Agency


Canadian Chef de Mission Mark Tewksbury has plenty of reasons to smile after a strong first half of the Summer Games for Team Canada. (REUTERS)


In Canada House, people were all smiles Saturday afternoon as talk centred around Canadian results at the half-way mark of the London Games.

Canada’s chef de mission Mark Tewksbury repeatedly said Canadian officials are satisfied with the athletes’ performances during this first week. Seven medals in five sports — Canada would add three more later in the day — was enough to lift some pressure from the team and offer encouragement to the others trying to reach the goals set by the leaders of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Sylvie Bernier, deputy delegation head, brilliant as can be, commented on how much the Canadian team spirit has improved: “For instance, our women basketball team beat Brazil, who ranks sixth. It was the first time in twelve years. How happy do you think they were on their way back to the Olympic village?”

Bernier also said it used to be that whenever Canada would win a medal, it was almost an accident, some luck, or an heroic effort by an individual athlete.

The two delegation heads also discussed how to count the medals. The IOC and countries like China count gold medals. The United States, Canada and several other countries and news agencies count the total number of medals. This second method still gives Canada an opportunity to finish among the top twelve countries in the London Games.

A gold medal always will seem better than a silver or bronze one. But to assess a country’s efforts, its progression and its athletes’ achievements, the total number of medals seems more fair.

Actually, the China Daily published a moving column Saturday. The newspaper states that the Chinese mindset has to change, that it is not normal or positive that a Chinese silver medallist weeps after “failing to win gold and for doing enough for the Chinese people.”

The columnist continued by saying the Chinese have to learn to congratulate any athlete who does his best and gives everything. If a silver medal is the best an athlete could do, then it should be celebrated as if it were pure gold.

Tewksbury was asked about this rather new mindset in the Chinese media landscape.

“This is the angle we favour,” he said. “Obviously, the competition is so ferocious that you count in hundredths of a second, in fractions of inches or in tenths of points. A well-deserved gold medal today could be a 10th place tomorrow, with rankings so close to each other. We aim for victory but a podium is a reward in itself.”

Tewksbury and Bernier still hope to meet the COC’s expectations for 20 medals in London. With Saturday’s performance, it may still happen.