I have always been a bit of an Olympic nut. I love the inspirational stories of determination and grit. This year, living abroad, I knew it would be a different experience. I tried to keep an optimistic outlook, saying I was looking forward to seeing some different coverage, and watching a team with more medal hopes without having to watch American broadcasting. What I didn't realize is how much I'd miss is the Canadian coverage. As the games have come to a close, I thought I'd give some insight on being a canuck, experiencing the Olympics downunda.
We knew that the Australians would have high expectations; their culture is highly influenced with sports. The Aussies are rather vocal about their expectations of athletes across many disciplines both at the Olympics and in other international competition, (swimming, rugby, tennis, cricket...), and athletes are often vocal (okay, braggarts) about their potential and expectations of themselves. In some cases, it backfired. The swimming team, despite promises of gold, was disappointed not only by a 4th place finish in the mens 4x100m, but with no individual gold medals at all (first time since '76). Others, like the golden girl of the hurdles, Sally Pearson, showed the world that a white girl can still win a sprint, and has had the same coach since highschool! But, after having "Advance Australia Fair" play on mental repeat, I actually started to sing "O'Canada". I needed to see more Canadian coverage.
The internet has been helpful, but it would only give recaps and photos of medal winners. It made me realize what an amazing job our sportscasters to of educating us on many of our athletes, regardless of medal expectation. We also get interesting cultural and history stories of the area hosting the games. I think if the Australian broadcasters did some of this, it would reduce the pressure on their athletes, and make the Olympic experience more enjoyable. (Bare in mind, we have only one source for the Olympics (NBN) on free tv, and other options are available on paytv)
It is rather impressive that a country of 22 million people would be disappointed in 35 medals (only 7 gold!)... it is also somewhat annoying. But, there's no mistaking the benefits to doing well at an Olympic games and how it relates to having an active population; they feed off eachother. Sally Pearson was motivated to join athletics by Cathy Freeman's performance in Sydney in 2000; and now she is motivating other young Australians to do the same. I think that some of what is missing in Canada is the encouragement and desire for a society to not only to be active, but to be competitive in sports... and win!
A majority of the stories that were important in Canada were not even discussed on Australian media (for example, the women's soccer fiasco and the mens 4x100m bronze DQ), which I guess I should be happy about, because most of them were tales of disappointment. But still, I feel like I was missing out on something Canadian. I suppose I should have gotten that TSN app after all...