one year later...

Exactly one year ago today Canadians held their collective breath and then followed this with a collective cheer as the 2010 Winter Olympics came to a dramatic and victorious end (thanks Sidney Crosby!).

One year later I’m wondering, what’s the Olympic legacy?

-Canada winning the gold medal in hockey (this was a BIG deal to Canadians)?
-Canada winning the most gold medals (14) by one nation in Winter Olympic history (again, a pretty big deal for a supposedly “passive” country)?
-The fun two-week party in the streets of downtown Vancouver?
-The beautiful weather and scenery that make up many of the images of the event?

Or negatively:
-The tragic death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luger?
-The Olympic Village fiasco?
-Tensions between VANOC and Vancouver’s homeless community?
-The exorbitant amounts of public money the whole show cost?

Or, as CTV’s summary program recently induced in many, perhaps it’s simply the good feelings one gets remembering all the stories of courage and dedication by hundreds of gifted athletes from around the world?

So, what was it?

Well, it’s probably impossible to summarize the legacy into one thing. Yet reflecting on my own experience of the event, I did realize a lasting impact on me personally: stories and cheering.

Think of Alexandre Bilodeau. Sure, he’ll always be remembered as the first Canadian to win gold on home soil, but stuck in the minds of everyone is the inspirational story of his brother, Frédéric, shamelessly cheering Alex on. Then there's Joannie Rochette’s courageous bronze medal performance only days after the sudden death of her mother. Or Petra Majdič, sustaining 5 broken ribs in the warm-up to competition, persevering to win the gold medal in cross-country skiing. And the stories go on.

Consequently, these stories inspired the audience to cheer. I think as humans we naturally rally around people’s stories. Gold medals are great. Great stories are gold. We celebrate victory. We connect with stories. In stories we realize that Olympic athletes aren’t superhuman (at least not in everything). Our cheering in the Olympic events becomes just as much a cheering for their lives. We cheer on their courage and dedication, in part, because we know we need the same in our own lives.

If we really want a lasting Olympic legacy, then, I’ve been wondering:
-What if we shared our stories with one another?
-And likewise, what if we cheered one another on?


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