Oh, Canada…

Last night I was watching the Olympics coverage and got to see the medal ceremony for the women’s speed skating 5000m, in which Canadians Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen won gold and bronze. I couldn’t help smiling. Literally – it was such a wonderful scene the smile was an involuntary response.

As I was enjoying the purity of that sporting moment, I found myself thinking how incredibly damned happy I was that they were on the podium getting Olympic medals while Todd Bertuzzi and Dani Heatley weren’t.

I don’t expect justice out of life, and especially not sports, but I damned sure enjoy it when it happens.

[THX: Sue V., Canadian Affairs Editor]

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One comment

  1. Couldn’t agree more, Sam. And how sweet is Clara Hughes (the gold medallist)?! She has the brightest, most infectious smile I’ve ever seen. Both she and Cindy Klassen (bronze medallist) are amazing athletes, teammates, and people. They do tonnes of volunteer work, including work with kids. They’re just dedicated athletes (Clara was also an Olympic cyclist) who are there for the love of what they do and aren’t going to nor care to get rich off their skills. Cindy is a dedicated Mennonite, something I also respect. Here’s a Canadian Press article in case you’re interested. Word up to Bode, Todd, and Dany — these gals are the *real* Olympic champions!!!
    Klassen ‘Woman of the Games’
    Feb. 26, 2006. 09:32 AM
    TURIN, Italy (CP) — Cindy Klassen was the woman of the 2006 Winter Games, according to the International Olympic Committee’s highest authority, and was named Canada’s flag-bearer for the closing ceremonies Sunday.
    Klassen won a Canadian record five medals at the Games in a performance that caught the attention of IOC president Jacques Rogge.
    “To see Cindy Klassen win five medals, she was definitely the woman of the Games,” Rogge said Sunday at an IOC news conference prior to the closing ceremonies.
    The 26-year-old from Winnipeg won gold in the 1,500 metres, silver in the 1,000, bronze in the 3,000, silver in the team pursuit and bronze in the 5,000 to become the first Canadian to win five medals in a single Games.
    “The Games couldn’t have gone any better,” Klassen said. “I’m so happy with how I did and also with how well my teammates did.
    “I couldn’t have done it without my coach Neal Marshall and my teammates. We’ve just had such a great time here.”
    Klassen also won bronze in the 3,000 at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.
    The announcement of the flag-bearer was made at the Canadian Olympic Committee’s wrapup news conference Sunday.
    Klassen, The Canadian Press female athlete of the year in 2005, joins Canada’s recent flag-bears at Winter Games closing ceremonies: figure skaters Jaime Sale and David Pelletier (2002), long-track speed skater Catriona Le May Doan (1998) and biathlete Myriam Bedard (1994). They were all gold medallists.
    Klassen’s fifth medal in a 14-day span here also broke the Olympic record she shared with Russia’s Lidiya Skoblikova for most medals by a female speedskater in one Games. Skoblikova won four gold medals at the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck.
    The sky is the limit for Klassen now and she builds towards the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
    “Winning five medals does boost the confidence I guess,” she said with a laugh. “We have a World Cup coming up and I’m going to be feeling pretty good about that.
    “Every race I go into now, I’m going to approach it the same way that I did at the Games.”
    Canada won a record 24 medals with seven gold, 10 silver and seven bronze. The team surpassed the previous high of 17 won in Salt Lake City in 2002 to reach its goal of finishing third among countries here in total medals, but one short of what the COC thought would be required to reach that position.
    “I’m so proud of how well Canada did at the Games here,” Klassen said. “It think we’re going to do even better in 2010.
    “I hope we can inspire children across Canada to get involve in sports.”
    Klassen can claim four of Canada’s medals and she helped win a fifth in the team pursuit. She graciously said one of her highlights of the Games was watching teammate Clara Hughes win gold the previous evening in the 5,000 metres.
    Klassen’s time was the fastest until the final pairing of Hughes and Germany’s Claudia Pechstein, and Klassen watched Hughes have the race of her life to take the gold.
    “It was just an incredible race,” Klassen said.

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