The Olympics as a whole was a tremendous success for Canadian Amateur sports as the country’s athletes earned a record medal count and allowed the nation to put the previous medal failures in Calgary and Montreal behind them.  But while the country’s athletes totaled the most gold (14) of any country and were at the center of most of the positive stories that emanated from Vancouver it was two tragic stories that encapsulated the games.

Through all the political turmoil and organizational issues that inevitably crop up when a progressive nation attempts to host a world event these games were supposed to follow the Olympic ideal and be a tournament for and about the athletes.  And the memories of the event are certainly about the athletes.  
It was more than a fortnight of glee for Canadians as each day their athletes produced another tremendous performance—which usually resulted in another medal.  And for the amateur athletes who strive to compete on the world’s biggest stage they had their moments of glory.  The capper came when the professionals won gold in hockey.

But hours before the Opening Ceremonies were scheduled to begin tragedy struck and put the organization and the safety of the games into question.  The name Nodar Kumaritashvili is now etched upon the minds of Canadian sport fans—the death of an athlete who organizers first failed to protect and then to defend.  When games officials concluded that Nodar’s death was Nodar’s fault it smelled of a decision reached more for the insurance coverage of the event rather than about an athlete dying on their course.

Two days before the ladies figure skating competition was to begin Canada’s main hopeful Joannie Rochette (above) lost her mother Therese to a heart attack.  Our hearts went out to Joannie.  And it was with a certain tinge of amazement that we watched as she continued in the competition, and it was with a ton of amazement as we watched her win a bronze medal.  It was one of the finest achievements ever accomplished by a Canadian amateur athlete.

It was no surprise that Joannie was named Canada’s female athlete of the year.  Hers is a story that lasts generations.

…It is doubtless that with the trade of Shaun Marcum the Blue Jays are not targeting 2011 as a year of contention.  The organization believes that another year of development is needed before the team attempts to take the next step.  They need to establish Morrow and Romero as a one-two in the rotation and they need to see which of the other pitching prospects will fill in the missing pieces in the rotation and the bullpen.  They need to see if Adam Lind can become an everyday first baseman and which of the young infielders, Hechavarria or Lawrie, can take over second base so they can move Aaron Hill’s home run bat to third base.   The team also needs to see if those players—specifically Bautista and Cecil—who had breakout years can back them up.  There are far too many questions yet to consider the Jays a viable contender.

…Yes the Toronto Raptors are a bad basketball team.  Or more appropriately they are a young basketball team that makes the same mistakes far too often.  The game in Dallas was won with effort, and the players talked afterward about not only the victory but the way the game was won—and how it could infuse the team with a newfound sense of confidence.  But until those players can play with composure and stop throwing it around as if the ball was on fire the team will continue to fight uphill in games—and end up on the short end most nights.

…It was interesting to note that in a game in Houston Dwayne Wade was smacked on the nose as he went up for a dunk and laid on the court, face down, for quite some time before time was called and the trainers came out to see him.  Throughout the entire time he was splattered across the court not one teammate came to his aid.  But credit to Chris Bosh who has accepted the fact that in Miami it’s not about the big three—it’s the big two.   He’s a very expensive appendage.

…So long to Steve Landesburg whose dry wit helped make Barney Miller one of the better comedies in the history of television.  Another memory from my youth now gone.

…Happy New Year





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