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Goals too lofty


Canada’s performance at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy has followed the same old song and dance so far: high hopes not translating into medals.

And frankly, it’s beginning to sound like a broken record.

Heading into the Turin Games, there was talk of Canada hauling in as many as 25 medals and finishing in third place in the overall standings. But fast forward to today—five full days into the competition—and Canadian athletes had won just three: a gold, silver, and bronze.

Sure, there’s still plenty of competition left, and Canada is a clear medal favourite in men’s and women’s hockey, as well as men’s and women’s curling. But even with that almost certain lock on four more, that only leaves a total of seven—meaning our athletes will have to pick up another 18 in the rest of the events just to match the pre-Games goal.

That’s about as likely as Germany facing Italy for the gold medal in men’s hockey.

So has Canada failed? Do our athletes “choke” when the big moment arrives? Or are we, as a country, carrying lofty expectations about our Olympic prowess that simply can’t be met?

Perhaps. But if the latter is true, the biggest culprit is the Canadian Olympic Association itself. It is the one, after all, that made the third-place, 25-medal goal—and subsequently set us up for failure if that isn’t met in Turin. If the idea was to generate fan interest, as well as justify the spending of taxpayers’ money on training our elite athletes, then this bold prediction was a complete flop.

Canadians take pride in being a “northern” country and obviously want to see our athletes do well in the Winter Olympics especially. And yes, we should expect some return on our money, but clearly the bar was set too high for Turin.

We cannot allow ourselves to fall into a similar trap, as the host nation, when the Games come to Vancouver/Whistler in 2010.

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