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.
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