On the last day of the Games, it all became clear to me.
I was in the presence of the Olympians, athletes with skill and drive who have the ability to work magic and restore faith.
People like 27-year-old Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., who raced his heart out in the cross-country marathon only to finish fifth and miss a medal by six tenths of a second. Kershaw’s result was the best ever by a Canadian in this event. He more than held his own against the legendary European giants of Nordic sport.
The thing with Olympians is that outwardly they resemble the rest of us. They come from small towns and loving families and are built in a variety of shapes and sizes. What distinguishes them is an ability to express incredible talent and grace in a pressure-filled crucible on the international field of play.
No better illustration exists than Joannie Rochette, the figure skater who survived the sudden death of her mother mere hours from the biggest moment of her life. Rochette soared to a bronze medal and delivered the most inspirational performance of the Olympics.
She is a remarkable young woman, the girl next door if you will, with the ability to conjure up a heroic act.
“I cannot begin to understand what she is going through,” said bobsleigh gold medallist Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I. “Her mother is gone now. Joannie was left to honour her memory with her performance and she did.”
The Canadian men who captured precious hockey gold here received the lion’s share of the attention and that is understandable. We live in a country where supremacy in that sport is a vital element to the people’s sense of worth.
But we should never forget that all the Olympians who graced the stage in both Vancouver and Whistler have been part of the story at these Games. They have fashioned a legacy of achievement for generations to come.
From across the country, they are our neighbours, our friends, our sons and our daughters.
These Canadian Olympians are ordinary people, it’s true, but they have proven they are capable of creating extraordinary memories.
The kinds of things we’ll never forget.
– Gemini Award winner and author Scott Russell is the Host of CBC Sports Weekend seen Saturday afternoons. A 20-year CBC Sports veteran, he has covered a variety of professional and amateur sports including nine Olympic games and numerous world championships.