Wednesday, October 28, 2009

2010 Winter Olympics

With the fall rains in Vancouver and snow all over the province of British Columbia, the Winter Olympics are becoming more than just an idea. I bridled sometimes at the hype and objected at times to the politics but when it comes right down to the games I'm impressed. What a rush! The athletes, teams and coaches are gearing up all over the world.
I remember the Pan Am games in Winnipeg as a kid and how I loved meeting the athletes. Here were the world's best coming to town to compete. Now I'm in a city and province where all the Olympians will be gathering. Yes ,I'm excited.
I've already bought an Olympics pin and some of the other Olympic merchandise. Why not. I'll not miss having the t shirt and ball cap (togue) for this one. It's one of the world's greatest oldest festivals and we're at the centre of it. Blackcomb. Whistler. Vancouver. This is it and it's really something.
I remember being a provincial champion athlete on provincial champion teams and what it meant to me. My Vincent Massey High School Volleyball team was sensational. All the early morning workouts paying off that final game. Next year it's the 50th anniversary of the old school and no doubt some of the old team will be there replaying the games. The chiropractors will be working overtime after that.
My YMCA coach, Don McQuaig taught us the value of excellence. The competition was never with another but with ourselves. We were out there to find out what we could do. That was in gymnastics, where individually I'd compete alongside a couple of the guys who went on to be on the Canadian Olympics team . They were that much more talented than me but really what it came down to was dedication. So many who are born stars lack the motivation and will power and sheer "stick to itness" discipline to be among the best. Keith Carter was our favourite back then. We'd all have gone for showers and swims and come back to find he was still practicing to be the fastest moving human pretzel. He was committed. He became a Canadian champion and taught all of us who knew him that hard work was rewarded and that there weren't any short cuts.
The Olympics is about those who not only have talent but among the thousands with equal genetics these all have the drive and purpose to go beyond what was previously humanly impossible. Records are always set at the Olympics which are an earthly kind of NASA.
As much as I like to knock politicians and poke the businessmen who so often want to add a cigarette or beer ad to a church wall, the Olympics is about a whole lot more. It's about a whole lot of people, organizers and athletes, governments, businessmen, and tourism, roads, restaurants and hotels and a myriad of services that a great gathering call for. I love watching all the names at the end of a Hollywood movie. Sure it may make millions of dollars but each movie employs hundreds and thousands whereas the Olympics is about millions. All over the world and here there are those involved in this event.
This is going to be something spectacular. Sure there will be traffic jams in Vancouver but we've lived with the Sun Run and the nude cyclists here already. This is world class. This is beyond continental. This is international. This is the Planet Earth. This is the Olympics.
I'm proud we're hosting it. I'm thankful I was in Montreal for the World Fair nearly half a century back, at the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, and the World Fair here. Now I'm going to get a taste of the Olympics. And I like it. I can say I was there.
Who would ever have guessed that Vancouver would be a city so cosmopolitan or Whistler Mountain so world reknown that all the world's greatest athletes and supporters would want to come here. I remember the first time I came to Vancouver it was little more than a village and I've actually met people who claim they used a tow rope to get up Blackcomb. Makes one think that Vancouver could one day be the centre of a space station and no one would think anything of it. The sky is no longer the limit. The Olympics teach us that.
British Columbia is fortunate indeed to have the vision and awareness that knows our young people will forever be affected positively by the experience of being at the very centre of it all. I know I felt that way when I volunteered at the Pan Am Games.
Few of those I competed with back then continued in sports but so many of the athletes having tasted excellence physically took the meaning of that experience into their academic, business, professional and political life. Some of the doctors I trained with were once champions. It's all in the attitude. So many Canadian Olympic Medallists I've met have said that for them it was the experience of the world village, meeting all the other athletes from around the world and sharing friendship.
Hand shakes span oceans and continents. Facebook, twitter, text messaging and internet. It's going to be an Olympics with more participation than any before.
And what it comes down to is really, the world's greatest Peace Festival. Even the guys and girls shooting rifles won't be shooting each other. The Olympic is all about getting along and show the world's leadership and all the people of the world that it's possible to get along and even facing the toughest challenges. The Olympics is about good sportsman ship. The Olympic athletes, our greatest ambassadors for peace, have always shown that humans are more than hate slogans and differences. The Olympics are all about diplomacy, team manship, friendship and celebration of life. It's young people doing their best and old people singing their praise.
It's coming here. The 2010 Winter Olympics are already incredible. By the time they actually arrive they're be right over the top. Blackcomb Whistler, Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada. Hooray for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

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