Truly special women doing truly special things
I know these stories probably got great play back home and deservedly so but I don’t think we can over-emphasize or celebrate what went on here Sunday for a couple of Canadians who really should be considered among the great Olympic athletes our country as ever produced.
Emilie Heymans winning a medal in a fourth straight Olympics is unprecedented – no female diver in the history of the Games has done that.
Clara Hughes fighting through some of the weirdest conditions imaginable – rain, cold, warm, sun – to hang with the lead pack in the women’s road race before falling back may not be a medal-winning performance but it’s pretty incredible what she’s accomplished her career.
I remember the first time I ever saw Hughes. It was in Atlanta in 1996, I was cub reporter with CP, she won a cycling medal that caught us by surprise and I had to race to Buckhead or somewhere like that just to catch the end of her official news conference to write about her.
To think that 16 years later she’s still going strong, after a foray into speedskating to win a Winter Olympics medal, is a story of dedication and athletic ability that might be unrivalled in Canadian sports history.
We have no idea how hard it is to get to a Games, what it takes in personal sacrifice with lives a bit on hold; to do it for all that time, and to do it so well, and to do it in such physically demanding sports is crazy good.
Diving is, for the most part, a young athlete’s sport, kids, really.
Four straight Games with a medal?
How good is that? Never-done-before-good, that’s how good that is.
These are the kinds of stories that make the Olympics special, history-making, awe-inducing, heart-warming stories of special people doing special things and making their country proud of them.
There shouldn’t be a Canadian today who doesn’t feel at least a little sense of pride that women like Heymans and Hughes are out there waving our flag, making us known, making the world take notice.
It was a one-bronze day for Canada but, really, it was much, much more than that.
Such dietary choices!
There’s a little coffee-food kiosk just inside the entrance to our main press centre – they make a lovely latte that’s just strong enough if you add a third short of espresso – and they’ve got some sandwiches there I need to try.
Not too many NBA arenas I’ve been in offer you either:
Peppered beef and gherkin
Cheddar cheese and pickles.
Haven’t tried either, but I sure will. Which one do I want?
The food choices here at our part of Olympic Park aren’t quite as varied as others I’ve been to.
There’s the obligatory McDonalds (some incongruous about Big Macs being the official food for the Olympics?) and a couple of places offering curries and, yes, fish and chips at the monstrous self-serve cafeteria one building over but, overall, far less choice than usual.
Not that there’s a lot of time for eating, actually, but be nice if there was more.
These guys came up last night in conversation and since the Olympic Park’s in the East End, might be tough for me to see West End Girls.
And I missed a free Pet Shop Boys concert in a park here, I’m told.
So, no, I did not see Lithuania get drilled by Argentina in the men’s basketball last night here (I was off freezing with my friends at beach volleyball) but my spies tell me Valanciunas was quite ordinary and really had a hard time dealing with pick and roll defence when he was guarding Luis Scola.
Not that it’s too huge a deal, actually, because Scola is precisely the kind of wise veteran who’ll give the kid fits for a while ‘til Valanciunas figures out he’s playing men instead of boys.
Very little other surprises on Day 1.
Americans cruised, Spain won, Brits lost and Nigeria-Tunisia was fun and close.
Hoping to get over there one day soon to catch up with all the familiar faces but, truth be told, if I don’t see the USA play until the playoff round, I’ll be fine. Been watching that circus for 20 years now and it’s getting kind of old.
Steak and ale pie and a handful of Stryians in a pub down an alley (the Swan, just off Southampton Row near the hotel) was a pretty solid night.
And I know this runs counter to what you might think about me, but having pubs close at 10:30 on a Sunday night made for a better night’s sleep than usual.
With a triple-header today (I are an expert in beach volleyball, archery and women’s basketball today) that early close wasn’t a bad thing at all.
Being the very last table in the joint – they were physically taking tables down around us while we sipped our last ones – was more traditional for us than an early night.
Get off the bus at the Horse Guard’s Parade, have some time to kill, take a wee walk away from the venue, turn a corner and what’s there?
No, you don’t get to see that stuff wandering Hazelville.
Remember a couple of weeks ago I was telling you about my friend over here and how she was lamenting the crappy weather? And then I land and it’s at least 30 C every day for the better part of a week and all the sweaters, jackets and trousers (I’m becoming quite British in the language, aren’t I?) that we back were just extra weight?
Well, she was right.
Ran through the darkest clouds I’ve seen in months, something akin to torrential rain, high winds, and then sun. Then some more rain, more clouds, more winds, and then sun.
It was like 22 C when I left my hotel clad in shorts and a t-shirt and about 13 C when I sat down at The Swan 13 or 14 hours later.
Was in the room.