Senior Happenings: The Games, as seen by two armchair Olympians

As Pierre de Coubertin said: "It's not the triumph but the struggle"

Alexandre Bilodeau was one of many inspiring Canadian athletes to watch over the course of the Sochi Winter Games.

Long before the 2014 Winter Games started, Ruthy and I had decided to be “armchair Olympians” again. Ruthy, you might remember, is my alter ego who tends to lean to the fun side of life, while I am a little more serious. Together we have watched more Olympiads than we like to admit and I knew that it would be lots of fun to do it again. I also knew, of course, that there would be much criticism but, according to Ruthy’s rules, that’s the time when we fetch our drinks and snacks. I think she knows, however, that I will read up on it later on anyhow. And so we decided to make a list of all the things we really liked.

First, the venues are superb and the fact they were built in walking distance from each other was not only very practical but also environmentally sound, not to forget that it looks great. Next, of course, we loved the opening show. The highlights of it always are the moments when the athletes of the world walk in and when the Olympic Flame arrives. This time the athletes came into the arena at an earlier time which made a lot of sense to us. After all, the athletes are the most important part of the games! The Canadian team was the third largest and the athletes looked really smart in their uniforms! Who would not be proud to see them coming in, led by Hayley Wickenheiser, captain of the famous Canadian women’s hockey team? And when the Olympic torch arrived, the mood was set. After all, this torch not only had traveled around the world, up mountain tops and under water, it even had been taken on a space walk!

But back to our team: not only did our athletes show excellence in performing throughout the games, they also showed sportsmanship and humanity that drew the attention of the world. It was an incredible combination! And here are just a few examples in no particular order: The sisters who won gold and silver in the freestyle moguls run – their exuberance has endeared them to us forever! The Canadian women’s hockey team which made playing hockey look almost easy, Mark Morris, the snowboarder, who just two weeks before the games broke a rib in a training run, still came to compete and win bronze. Gilmore Junio, who gave the spot he had qualified for to another speed skater because he thought he was the better skater! Our all time favourite athlete, however, is Alex Bilodeau, who won gold in the freestyle moguls run in both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games and donated the medals to his brother who inspired him.

There were many more athletes who stood out like this and we should be really proud of them. There was lots of drama, too, especially in the ice skating department. Who will forget the men’s short program which started with the top Russian skater, Evgeni Plushenko, who had to pull out  of the competition when a fall caused a severe flare-up of an old injury, followed by Jeremy Abbott, one of the U.S. top skaters who also fell severely but managed to pull himself up and finish his program? With many others, including our own Patrick Chan stumbling or falling, Ruthy and I started to wonder if there was something wrong with the ice. Ruthy was especially upset when Kevin Reynolds, for whom she roots for quite a number of years, was placed in the 15th spot. But, the culmination of the drama surely was provided by ice dancing as was expected. Can you imagine that the two top pairs, both “out of this world” in Ruthy’s words, have trained in the same place in the USA under the same coach (a Russian lady) for 10 years? It could be the stuff for a movie! Both Ruthy and I, however, said that it must be extremely hard to be a judge.

When it comes to the ladies single skating, however, it was our own Kaetlyn Osmond who stole the show. She was a star born in front of our eyes, the star of tomorrow. As a starter, we thought that she did not only steal the hearts of her Canadian fans, but the hearts of the world.

Soon enough the 2014 Olympic Flag will be taken down, folded up and entrusted to the host country of the next Olympiad. The athletes of the world will return home to be celebrated and all of them, no matter what colour the medals, should be very proud. All others, who did not win medals though they gave their best, should remember the words coined by Pierre de Coubertin for the Olympic Creed:  “The most important thing is not to win, but to take part, not the triumph but the struggle, not to have conquered, but to have fought well!”

These words put everything in perspective.

Thanks to the CBC for letting us know and see the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, almost as if we were there. Memories will linger on and millions of people will remember the games fondly, I know Ruthy and I will!

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