Tuesday April 22, 2014

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Showing some Olympic spirit

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As I pen this column, Canadian Olympic athletes are off to a fantastic start at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

On Tuesday morning, Canada was second in the medal standings with nine, including four gold medals. Itís the best start ever for Canada at an Olympic games and there is certainly more to come.

The first few days of competition were awe-inspiring with some amazing performances. Iím fully into the Olympic spirit and proud to see our athletes doing so well. And there is still way more excitement to look forward to.

As the Olympic flame was lit last Friday morning opening the Games, I was immediately taken back four years ago to Vancouver and our Olympics.

I remember vividly the excitement in the streets of Vancouver and Whistler as thousands of us joined together in celebration of sport and achievement.

On the first full Saturday of the Games, my brother and I hit the streets of Vancouver, going through the Olympic pavilions and posing for photos beside the Olympic caldron. We were lucky enough to score some great seats at the curling venue, where we watched Kevin Martinís team from Alberta take on Scotland in a brilliant match.

The energy in the building was electric. Halfway through, the curlers had to stop as the building erupted in a spontaneous rendition of O Canada. What a moment! I still have the event ticket on the bulletin board in my office.

On the final day of the Games, I was with my dad at a downtown party for the gold medal menís hockey game between Canada and the U.S. We all know how that ended! When Sydney Crosby scored in overtime, the nation as one erupted in celebration. To be a part of that was something very, very special.

Now fast forward four years and weíre all feeling that same sense of pride as we watch our athletes compete.

The Olympics are a celebration of sport, a celebration of national pride and unity. Yes, they are certainly political. Many have questioned the amount of money ó in the billions ó†that have been spent to host these Games. There has been talk of corruption amongst government officials, hotels not being ready, security concerns and other political statements.

But donít forget that we had some of the same questions being asked about our Games. The costs, issues at the opening ceremonies, security concerns too, but in the end, Vancouver put on one of the best Olympic games ever staged. And to top it off, Canadian athletes brought home the most gold medals of any other country.

Iím not trying to dismiss the issues we had or the issues that are happening in Russia. They are important and deserve discussion and debate. I choose, though, to celebrate the sports and the athletes, athletes who have worked all their lives to get to the Olympics and live their dreams.

And away from the podium, we have the amazing story of a Canadian cross country ski coach, who, seeing a Russian competitor lose his ski on the course, rushed to his aid, allowing the Russian athlete to complete the race in front of his home country. If thatís not something to be proud of, then I donít know what is.

Go Canada, go!

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