Saturday, July 05, 2008

Canada at Beijing 2008: The fearless (and really early) predictions

Every time I look to my left as I drive westbound along Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway I can’t help but think what if…

What if the IOC wasn’t (allegedly, of course) corrupt and there were a bunch of shiny new stadiums on the lake front instead of more ugly condos (other than, you know, me not being able to afford rent in the city…) Alas, the IOC is corrupt (um, allegedly) and instead of getting geared up for a month long party in the Big Smoke, we are all preparing for two weeks of sleep deprivation and fear that the whole damn thing is going to blow up in the Chinese and IOC’s faces.

And, of course, Canadian disappointment. It's not an Olympics until a Canadian world champion finishes 18th.

However, this is the first Summer Olympics since the COA's focus has shifted from going for golly-gee-isn’t-it-great-to-be-here top eight finishes to actually, you know, getting on the damn podium.

It's a change of attitude that has done wonders on the winter side of things. It will be interesting to see how it pans out in the summer sports.

Of course, Canada is far less successful traditionally in the summer sports (partly because, you know, the whole world competes, rather than the 1/3 that do in the winter disciplines — sorry, was that too cynical?).

Regardless, there seems to be a new attitude in Canadian sports. It's a subtle thing, but you are starting to see better results and less acceptance of mediocrity. As a middle power nation we are never going to be real powers in the Summer Games (although you might have said that about Australia 20 or so years ago), but 15-20 medals every Olympics shouldn’t be out of the question.

We’re not there yet. But, look for these Games to be just a bit better than Athens, with more Canadians in finals and in contention. However, the medal totals won't rise significantly.

Below the jump, my fearless picks for Canadian medals in Beijing (a full three weeks before you are likely to see such a list elsewhere!)

Canada will win four gold medals and 12 medals total. Two golds will come from Adam van Koeverden, who will be the Canadian star of the Games by doubling up in the K-500 and K-1000 (that’s kayaking for those not as geeky about amateur sport). The men’s rowing eights will be the most dominating Canadian performance in China and wrestler Toyna Verbeek will move up one step from her position in Athens.

The medalists:

Men’s rowing eights – gold
Tonya Verbeek – women’s wrestling – gold
Adam van Koeverden – Kayaking - gold K-1 500 and K-1000
Sam Cools – women’s BMX – silver
Karen Cockburn – trampoline – silver
Alexandre Despatie – platform diving - silver
Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito – Syncro diving - bronze
Scott Frandsen and Dave Calder – men’s pair rowing – bronze
Thomas Hall – Kayaking C-1 1000 - bronze
Brent Hayden – Swimming – 100m freestyle - bronze
Gary Reed – track and field - 800m - bronze


DR said...

At least taxpayers don't have to pay for those ugly condos unless they live in them.

Duane Rollins said...

"Taxpayers" pay for a lot of things--it comes down to making choices about what is important.

I happen to think that the GTA deserves a little infrastructure support from the rest of the country, especially on the sporting facility front. Would a successful Olympic bid be the best way to go about that? Probably not, but it would be *a* way (I'd rather Toronto host a Canada Games personally. That would likely be a great impetus to improving this city's aging sports infrastructure).

Ans if you want to make a "thing-they're-the-centre-of-the-universe" argument save your thought. The truth is that a hell of a lot more money has gone out of this city over the years (including money to support three Olympic Games elsewhere) than has gone in--not only does Toronto's tax base help pay for health care in Regina, but it also pays for roads in Sudbury.

Would I feel one once of guilt in Toronto were to ever get an Olympics and require "taxpayers" money fro out of the region? No. At least no more guilt than anyone in Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal would over their mouth long party.

sager said...

Yeah, but Bay St. (quote, unquote) has enough cash to make this stuff happen, and they don't .... so the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame was allowed to fall into decrepitude, so the Argos are still stuck playing at Rogers Centre, so the GTA, excepting a couple women's hockey players, didn't account for a single one of Canada's medals in Turin. Then again, a hell of a lot of them trained at all these Cadillac facilities in Calgary, and we have a ton of Olympians whom the media will often say are from Calgary when they were born and raised in, say, the Ottawa region (Mike Brown, Seanna Mitchell, etc.).

Duane Rollins said...

Don't get me wrong; quote unquote Bay Street doesn't get a free pass from me either.

I just find that there is a knee jerk reaction from outside the GTA whenever the idea that Toronto should receive government money for anything comes up. I'm not sure why T.O. should receive any more or less consideration than anywhere else in the country/province. Right now, I'd suggest it gets less because politically it's really easy to ignore Toronto...

But, we're getting way off topic.

Tyler King said...

If Toronto weren't run by a massively wasteful municipal government, people might be a bit more sympathetic.

Toronto likes to pretend that it's getting robbed of its riches while other cities are swimming in cash (not the case), simply because it's the easiest way for City Hall to deflect blame.

sager said...

That's not getting us back on topic.

Duane Rollins said...

Don't you just love that van Koeverden kid's attitude!

DR said...

Since there's a break in the tennis, I will take a moment to respond.

I'm not sure why the first response was to assume I was from outside of the GTA. I was born and raised on the eastern edge of the GTA. And have lived (although currently just part-time) in Toronto. But, anyway.

The GTA does deserve more infrastructure support from the government. It could use a few more subway lines (one along Eglinton would be a great start). It needs more public housing. I don't know how badly it needs a new velodrome.

As for the old gripe about money leaving Toronto, I think it's all a part of the trade-off of being a big city filled with corporate headquarters and people who can apparently afford to pay near a million dollars for a three-bedroom duplex that needs some work. But at the same time, the city is filled with people from all over the world and all over the country who struggle every day to make their lives better. Toronto should be an example for the rest of the country and use its resources and clout (such as it is) on things that will help those who need it most, not a month-long party.

But we're off-topic.

Anonymous said...

Change the subject again. Toronto does get an inordinate amount of our taxpayer money for professional sport facilities.
27 million dollars from the Feds and 8 million from the province to build the 70 million dollar BMO stadium so Toronto could get a PRO soccer franchise.
Legend has it that the former federal lands that the ACC is built on was transfered to the city for one dollar, instead of what this valuable piece of land was worth.
Does any one know how much the province poured into Skydome to subsidize before selling it at fire sale prices to private interests?
Is Hamilton getting any fed-prov money to repair or replace the sagging Ivor Wynne?
Is Ottawa getting any fed-prov money to repair FCS so that CFL can return here? Did the senior gov't s put money into Scotiabank Place or the Zip. I don't think so? I do not think any fed-prov. money has gone into pro sport facilities in Ottawa since 1967 when the Civic Center and North side stands were built with a federal centennial project grant.

-and best wishes to VK and all our Olympians.


sager said...

Federal money for stadia in Ottawa is even less popular — it doesn't get the vote in Lethbridge or Moncton.

Confession: I've been waking up around noon lately, so I didn't even bother checking NBC, I just assumed that Roger vs. Rafa was over. I did the usual "I just want something I can ignore" routine and left the TV on the first sports programming I could find — WNBA on ABC, Silver Stars vs. the Mystics.

So between writing some blog posts and getting ready for work, I missed the greatest Wimbledon final since Borg-McEnroe back in '81.

But I saw Becky Hammon light it up for the Silver Stars!

sager said...

OK, to get this back on-topic ...

Canada will win at least one medal on the ball diamond before the sport, in the IOC's infinite wisdom, disappears from the Games.

Watch out for Andrew Willows in the canoe-kayak.

Anonymous said...

Right--not poular in Lethbrdige or
Ecum Seecum , but spending money on pro sports in the GTA, which returns half the seats in the provincial assembly and enough federal seats to swing a federal. election is very popular with reigning governments.
It is wht GTA gets the stuff I previoussly mentioned and Ontario's next largest cities do not. It is all about garnering favours to get votes and seats in parliamment.

sager said...

When George Carlin died, some obits mentioned that he stopped voting for president in 1972, after the Nixon landslide.

I can see why!

Mike said...

A trivial point perhaps but still a point worthy of correction nonetheless: the Canada Soccer Association was involved with the construction of BMO Field, it's the Home Field for the Canadian National Soccer Team as well as TFC. Just wanted to make sure it was noted that there's more than just a professional team who benefits from that stadium. Much like Montreal and Calgary have benefits from past Olympics, and like Vancouver is about to.

Feel free to openly criticize anon. but in this case just realize that more than just the city of Toronto benefits here.