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article imageOp-Ed: It is Time Canada Adopts Golden Success at the Games

By Farid Abdulhamid     Apr 4, 2010 in Sports
Canada’s definition of success at the Olympics is an outdated measure that needs to be dropped. The vast majority of countries in the world judge Olympics success by the total number of gold won as opposed to the total haul of medals of any colour.
By world standards, Canada is undoubtedly the top nation of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, having won a total of 14 gold medals, more than any other competing nation at the games. The feat is also an all time record, as Canada has now surpassed the old record of 13 gold medals jointly held by Russia and Norway. And by international standards, Canada is therefore the most successful nation ever at the Winter Olympics.
Locally, official results place Canada third (based on its own definition of success), but the vast majority of countries still consider Canada as the top nation at the Vancouver games, regardless of the fact that the US won a total of 37 medals, 11 more than Canada’s 26 medals. In most medal tables from around the world, Canada is placed first with 14 gold, Germany second (10 gold) and the US third (9 gold).
If golden success were Canadian measure at the Vancouver games, then the “Own the Podium” program would have achieved its intended objectives. Ironically, Canada’s overall success at the Vancouver games may have been downgraded by its definition of success that does not conform to international standards that clearly favour golden success. It has allowed the US, Canada’s main nemesis at the Olympics, to walk out of Vancouver as the most successful nation at the games.
Calling for golden success does not necessarily diminish the merits of winning silver or bronze. Undoubtedly, Canadian athletes who have won gold, silver, and bronze or even failed to make it to the podium have all done Canada proud. Golden success is just a logical assessment of an athlete’s accomplishment given that the drive for gold could actually push an athlete’s endurance to the highest limits possible.
It is not clear why Canada measures success on total medals. But one thing is clear; the US is probably one of the other few countries in the world that measures success on total medals. Is this then, another case in which Canada, imitates or follows in the footsteps of the US, simply to distinguish itself from Europe and the rest of the world as a North American nation with different traits, even on the logic of success in the international sporting arena?
If for some reasons the true north follows the American logic, then Canada is a clear loser in international sports, as its current measure of success favours the US, a gigantic nation of approximately 315 million people, where definition of success (total medals of any colour) makes sense compared to the traditional practice around the world in which gold is the real deal.
For a country of about 33 million people (approximately 10 times smaller than the US), it would be more sensible, even smarter, for Canada to measure success on total gold medals as opposed to overall medals. Another problem with measuring success on total medals is that athletes may not push themselves harder to strike gold, knowing that a bronze or silver, is equally acceptable. This, some may argue, is perhaps why Canada has performed dismally even at the home front in the past if the Montreal and Calgary Olympics are taken into account.
In countries like Kenya and Ethiopia that blaze the trail in long distance running , winning a bronze or silver can be considered a loss as public perception in those countries dictate that gold is the ultimate measure of success. It is for this reason that such countries ( poor funding and sub-standard training facilities notwithstanding), continue to maintain their status as some of the giants in the Summer Olympics, often finishing in the top ten or even top five in the medals ranking and all this based on golden success.
It is true that hockey is rightfully considered Canada’s own game. For this reason, the Canadian men and women hockey teams at the Olympics and world championships always aim for gold. Anything short of gold could be grossly disappointing. It is this spirit that has enabled the Canadian Hockey teams win gold at both the 2002 Salt Lake City games and the 2010 games in Vancouver at the expense of the Americans. Like its hockey teams, Canada should always aim for gold.
It is time Canada leaves behind the US in the wilderness and switches to golden success so as to motivate its athletes to aim higher in future Olympics and other international events and bask in the glory it truly deserves. The upcoming Pan-American games in 2015 in Toronto, should possibly herald a new era for Canadian sports in which golden success becomes the standard measure of athletics achievement.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Vancouver 2010, Winter olympics, Team canada
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