Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday night, like many, most, all of you (Canadians anyways) I was a mess.
Because the professional, wait scratch that, the hockey team I cheer for has not played a meaningful game in four years I haven't experienced that tingle on the edge of your seat, heart pounding stress that it seems only sports can produce.
And yes we have had a baby and my father in law fought for his life and won during that time. And yes I was stressed during those times but not too much. I am calm by nature and I have, like my father, a ridiculously optimistic faith that things will work out for the best when it comes to life's challenges.
But when it comes to sports, well I become a basket case.
I had already suffered Sunday afternoon when Kristina Groves won her bronze medal by a hair (and suffering is the right word) and when it came to the mogul finals I was a disaster because you can do your best and still lose and all it takes is a minor mistake to drop you a dozen spots in the standings. The weekend had been terrific for Canada already. Ignore pretty well all of the media when it comes to what's happening. Heil was favoured to win gold and she was beaten fair and square for a silver but Charles Hamelin was a longshot in the 1500 and Kristina Groves had a shot at third (she had won a bronze in one of four races this season) and Alex Bilodeau had a shot at a medal, no more, no less.
Yet according to some media they were all guaranteed godl medal favourites. Sheerly lazy and incompetent reporting.
So Groves won her bronze and Clara Hughes and Edney and the biathlete all surpassed expectations and so its quite apparent that this Canadian team is ready to go.
And then the men's moguls and two Canadians sitting one two with only six to go and two of those Canadians and I'm worrying and worrying some more that surefire medals will slip away and sure enough they start getting pushed over on that couch and all I can think is that Bilodeau is going to crash and then the Frenchman is going to win it and its going to be an oh fer.
And what does young Bilodeau do?
He wins it all.
And in his interviews, his emotions as he talks about being surrounded by his family.
Now I'm a wreck here. Buddy gives his wife a coffee at the airport, I well up. Buddy finds out that his wife's tumour is operable. Buddy's little guy goes for a twirl and then takes his hand.
Make it stop! I give already. I haven't completely lost it but if I start crying when the talking cars come on then I'll have to smash my TV and call for the wagon with the rubber walls.
Not long after we began to celebrate the phone rang, a Northern Ontario number, I pick it up, I hear my name and I hear a roar in the background, singing and shouting and an exaltation pouring over the wires from thousands of miles away, from a mountain in British Columbia.
Two very good friends of mine, family really, brothers, are in Vancouver to take in a few days of events. You can guess where they were on Sunday night.
A few exchanged words, barely audible over the cacophony, best wishes from me, unbridled joy from him and the thousands (millions?) around him. I said goodbye and the two of them wandered off to celebrate a moment that they will never forget.
If you click on the link at the right (Torch Relay Day 66) you can read his story about his experience about being a torch bearer. I could try and tell you the story but I'll just let his own words speak for themselves. Upon finding out that he had been selected to be a torch bearer he said:
What does it mean to carry the torch? It touched down in Canada yesterday and began its nation-wide trek across this great country of ours ... I start thinking of what this really does mean. I’m not Rick Hanson or Cindy Klassen or Simon Whitfield, or any of those great Canadians being mentioned as confirmed or possible torch carriers... I’m a guy who has loved sport since birth and who has been a fan of amateur sport and the Olympic Games forever. My family has always been big fans of the Olympics and all the schools I attended throughout my youth continued to pave the way for my interest and involvement in sport. It’s afforded me countless opportunities. It’s developed lifelong friendships. It has taken me all over the world. It was the basis for my university education in Sports Administration, and was also my first area of employment after finishing school. I’ve met athletes and coaches, organizers and administrators from all over this planet who all have this unifying theme tying them all together. I’ve gotten to see first hand the excitement of having a role in the Olympic Games. There’s a vibe that’s unexplainable. There’s a passion that every person from every country that’s made the trek to the Games in the air that is incomparable. The passion resonates to everyone’s home country across the world.
And there it is again, that theme, the connection between people, between people from around the world, between people within this country, between friends, between family members. As Joey talks about what's happening he refers again and again to his family, a tightknit clan who have taken me and mine into their hearts over the years. It is his mom and dad who inspired his love of sports from a very young age, who coached him in hockey and in soccer, all of those long trips on winter highways, all of those mornings getting up at dawn, teaching him and his brother, cheering them on, supporting them in whatever they chose to do.
And so it is that on the day that he ran with the torch in Wawa his dad ran beside him in the bitter cold and he was joined by his girlfriend and some close friends who made the trek along the north shore of Lake Huron and then through the matchless beauty of the Shield at the head of Lake Superior, all the while cheered on by his biggest fan, his mom.
Here is his story, you can hear his mom and dad and his friends cheering him on if you watch the video, especially his mom. Please read it, at the end there is one final twist that once again reminds us that for all of our differences, for the distances between us, both physical and otherwise, we are all linked together.
And that, again, in my mind, is what this is all about.
Posted by Black Dog at 4:30 PM