VANCOUVER, B.C. – Canada’s Olympic team take note: the second man to walk on the moon says you don’t always need to be first to be successful.
Buzz Aldrin, one of many celebrities who has come to Vancouver to take in the Olympics, says too much emphasis is placed on being No. 1.
“The media makes an awful big thing about how many gold medals do you win, who’s first,” Aldrin said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“That’s not the point.”
The point for Olympic athletes should be about improving with each competition – and then motivating their teammates to reach new limits. It was that same philosophy that got Aldrin and fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong to the moon more than 40 years ago.
“Each mission has a part to play in adding to the capability of being able to land on the moon. Once you’ve demonstrated you can land on the moon, then you can begin to do more things having achieved that.”
For Olympians, he said, “everything adds to what has been achieved before. Between each Olympics, the standard is improving as the maturing of the human body learns how to behave and train itself to a much higher degree.”
Aldrin, who turned 80 last month, was one of three former astronauts who took part in an event Sunday night sponsored by Omega, the official timekeeper of the Olympics. He was joined by Eugene Cernan, the last man to set foot on the moon during the Apollo 17 mission, and Tom Stafford, who travelled into space four times.
The moon was shining over the Olympic city on a clear evening Sunday. Aldrin was asked what he thinks when he looks up at the lunar body all these years later.
“From Earth it seems like almost an impossible dream. There’s a moon that we see from here, but en route, the Earth gets smaller and smaller, but the moon stays about the same size until you get quite close to it. In orbit around the moon, it’s a very rough, foreboding place. But it’s a different moon than you see from Earth.”
Aldrin pointed out that the landing gear legs on the lunar module he and Armstrong took to the moon were made by Canada. And he said the Canadarm on the shuttle flights shows Canada can play an important part in future international space missions.
But how about Canada’s goal of winning the most medals at the Olympics?
“I think history says that the Winter Olympics has not been too kind to the host team. But I’d say you’re doing well. If you judge by the spirit, you Canucks really outdo yourself.”
Canadian team officials acknowledged Monday that the goal of finishing first in the medal standings was unrealistic.