Before the Olympics started late last week, the first posts that appeared on my Facebook newsfeed were focused on the fact that Sochi apparently wasn’t ready for the Games.
The evidence included photos of restrooms with visitor chairs (front row seats?) across from the toilet, toilet seats installed incorrectly, doors without door knobs, rooms without doors, manholes missing their covers, hotels with no lobbies, and a wide assortment of bizarre translations on signs.
I experienced a few moments of dread, thinking that maybe the Olympics was going to be overshadowed by those sorts of stories. Or worse. Fortunately though, most of the negativity seemed to fade into the background once the Games actually began, and while there’s always a chance things will take a turn for the worse, so far so good. Actually, so far, so brilliant!
The 2010 Vancouver Olympics were something of a turning point for this country. Own the Podium had been in place for about six years, and Canadian athletes finished a historic first in Gold medals with 10. We saw normally modest Canadians grow bold in their national pride. And this momentum… and pride… has continued into 2014. Olympic fever is rampant, and we haven’t been disappointed.
Knock wood again.
Over the past five days we’ve seen sisters stand beside each other on the podium to accept silver and gold in the same event. We’ve watched a young moguls’ idol repeat his Vancouver 2010 gold medal performance, and the only slightly younger man he inspired stand beside him to take silver, each crediting the other for their success. We saw figure skaters come together in the first-ever team competition to win silver, veterans applauding the newcomers for making the win possible. And just yesterday we watched as a speed skater gave up us his spot so a teammate who had slipped during qualifications could compete. Then we watched that teammate win silver.
Thanks to the background stories by the various television networks involved, we’ve also met the parents, teachers, coaches, friends and so many others who are part of an athlete’s support network. And we’ve glimpsed the kind of commitment and effort it has taken the Canadians we’re so proud of just to make it to Sochi.
There’s a lot, and I mean a LOT, we can learn from Olympians. The reality is we already know most, if not all of it. But reminders are always good. And when reminders come with four gold, four silver and two bronze medals (as of sleep time last night), they’re kind of hard to argue with.
So here are the top five reminders I’ve taken from the first five days. Don’t be too surprised if I add to the list before the Games are over…