North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Canada needs to change Olympic priorities

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Gearing up for the Olympic there seems to be a number of suprises: no smog, the USA basketball team hasn’t been upset (or even challenged) yet and there’s a slim, slim chance that Canada may win a medal of some kind.

In most countries, that would be seen as a disappointment; most would rather try and rake in the medals, to win as many as they could. But this is Canada, where the 2002 Olympics are fondly looked back upon, even with 17 total medals.

But this year, it looks like the current trend will continue: Canada has been winning less and less medals in the summer games since a high of 22 in the 1996 Atlanta games: in the last summer games, Canada won just 12 medals.

So this could be why Canada has all but thrown in the towel in some events. Only one boxer has made the cut, Adam Trupish. The women’s archery team only received a quota spot because the Netherlands pulled out. The women’s soccer team, perhaps the best Canadian team in the Olympics, is only ranked ninth in the world.

And those are the teams that qualified for the Olympics: the basketball team, for one, didn’t.

So perhaps the Canadian Olympic Committee should revamp their look at the Olympics. Maybe they should not worry about the summer games and instead focus on our specialty: the winter games. After all, the next winter games will be held here, in Vancouver, and the whole world will be watching, as it were.

It’s a point that has been increasingly raised lately, most vocally by Prime Time Sports. And it’s a point that makes more and more sense the more I think about it.

Up here it’s winter from November until April – if not longer. The national sport is hockey, a game best played on ice. We know cold, it’s in our collective wheelhouse. So why focus on it?

Add to that our population, about 33 million. That’s the same as that other Olympic powerhouse…


Canada’s population is about that of Morocco, Algeria and maybe Kenya. None of those countries are powerhouses: Algeria has won five medals this decade, Kenya four and Morocco eight. Compared, fair or not, Canada does well above the norm.

But there’s something to be learned from them: they don’t overextend themselves. Morocco hasn’t participated in a winter Olympics since 1992. They harbour no attempt to compete with powerhouse countries like China, Russia or the United States.

Those countries, with many more people and considerably more resources, always contend for medals and almost always deliver, as they should.

But Canada cannot. We don’t have the same money to pour into our Olympic programs and don’t have the same amount of raw talent to compete with. As a result, we overextend ourselves and as a result, disappoint.

Look up the last two Olympic games held by Canada. Look at the medal count: underwhelming, isn’t it? Look at the last time a Canadian team won a gold medal in the summer games. Sad, isn’t it?

Look at how much better Canada already is in the winter.

That’s why Canada needs to re-evaluate it’s Olympic programs and focus on what we do best – the winter sports. Because at the current rate, we’re already better at the winter games. Because the next games are in Canada.

Because it’s about time Canada started to contend.


Written by M.

August 4, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Olympics

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