Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Let the Games begin (at last and thankfully)

At the Olympics, there is little doubt that the sweetest medals of all are the unexpected ones. The Toronto Star takes a look at some unexpected Canuck heroes of the past today and offense some suggests of who might surprise in the day’s ahead.

Of course the problem with making picks for unexpected medals is that, well, they are unexpected (that said, watch out for the Canadian 4X200m men’s freestyle relay team to grab an upset bronze. I’m also feeling good about the women’s soccer team’s chances if it captures one of the top two spots in its group—but ask me again this time tomorrow).

At times in the lead up to these Games, which unbelievably start in less than 12-hours with the football soccer tournament, it’s been hard to stay focused on the actual events. It’s not wrong to be dialed into what’s happening outside of the playing field’s of China, but it’s also not entirely fair to ignore the athletes.

Beneath the crap—and there is a lot of crap at any Olympics—there is truly spectacular and engaging competition. After all, the athletes didn’t choose to go to China. And, although there are a lot more rich, professionals competing now (the Redeem Team. Please) the vast majority are just fencers from Bulgaria or rowers from Victoria. They ain’t rich and they ain’t famous outside of their own kitchen table.

We shouldn’t ignore the politics this time around. But, we should also try to enjoy the Games on our own terms as well. They only come around every four years and they are too good to miss (even if most of the events are taking place while we are asleep).

So set your alarms. Canada’s Games start at 4:45 a.m. EDT tomorrow on the See Bee See, when the women's soccer team takes on Argentina.

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