Canadians should take pride in Vancouver 2010

VANCOUVER, B.C—14 gold. Seven silver. Five bronze. The combined total of 26 medals gives Canada a third place finish in the Vancouver 2010 medal count. However, per International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules, the 14 gold medals made Canada the official winner of the Winter Games.

If you didn’t believe before, you should, now more than ever.

What started off with uncertainty and scrutiny ended in victory, unprecedented national pride and a surge of patriotism.

We finally won our first gold medal on Canadian soil (Alexandre Bilodeau in men’s freestyle moguls), and went on to set the record for most gold medals won by a country at any Winter Olympic Games in history.

On top of that, individual athletes such as Hayley Wickenheiser, captain of the women’s hockey team, set new Olympic records – Wickenheiser became the all-time leading Olympic scorer with 16 goals.

The Olympic website and the media coverage also set new records – over 16.6 million viewers tuned in to watch the men’s hockey team capture gold over Team U.S.A., making it the most-watched sports program in Canadian television history.

But it’s more than just the numbers.

Spending the last 17 days in Vancouver in the spirit of the Winter Games, I can confidently say that Canada has proven itself.

Our proportionally small population has managed to produce world class athletes competing and excelling against the usual powerhouse countries, all the while remaining humble in true Canadian fashion.

The streets were a sea of red and white, but at the same time, the fan bases of other countries and cultures were accepted throughout the city.

A nation as diverse as ours has captured the essence of the Olympics wholeheartedly. We have brought together the entire world in the name of sport and competition and proven that the true north is both strong and free.

Going into the Games, there was much debate whether or not British Columbia, or Canada for that matter, could handle the pressure of hosting such a large-scale international event.

With the problems lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremonies, the unfavourable weather conditions – which resulted in the cancelation of over 20,000 general admission tickets to snowboarding events – and the death of Norwegian bobsledder Nodar Kumaritashvili, everyone began to think the doubts were accurate.

However, with the “I Believe” mantra fresh in our minds, Canada came together and overcame the adversity with a good sense of humour. We met the world’s high expectations and put Canadian athletics on the map.