Florida, Own The Podium and CBC Radio this PM in Montreal…

I’ve been down here for a few weeks in sunny Florida and life is good. The first week was a little chilly and the drive south was the longest Montreal-FLA drive I’ve ever done through one of the worst snow storms the Eastern US has seen. But all is well that ends well and training has been good and hard. The men’s canoe team is fit and fast and we posted some good runs last week.

We’ve all been glued to the TV watching the Olympics and cheering for our fellow athletes and our friends from various countries. It’s interesting to hear the US take on the Canadian Olympics and the whole Own The Podium (OTP) story line. A great quote that was heard went something like: ‘Canada can own the podium, we’ll just rent it for a while’…pretty funny.

I’m doing an interview on CBC Montreal’s Home Run about OTP and how I feel about it. This is the second one of these I’ve done in just over two weeks and it’s interesting to hear how different people react to OTP. I’m not entirely clear on all the in’s and out’s of OTP and I usually try to make that clear ahead of time in case I put my foot in it, however, for something that has attracted so much attention OTP seems fairly innocuous. From what I’ve read on the OTP website there isn’t much to get excited about; yes it was bold and called un-Canadian for us to say we will own the podium in 2010. However setting a difficult goal is a fundamental aspect of when one is striving to be better. Canada wanted results at the Olympics and they set a goal, maybe a lofty one but nonetheless they did what most would do.

The Olympics aren’t over yet and maybe we will reach our goal but even if we don’t, we are seeing many personal bests and Canadian bests. It’s important to remember when watching an event like the Olympics that much of what has happened between Olympic games becomes irrelevant during the Games themselves. For instance, we hear a broadcaster say something like “so and so is defending world champion” and we automatically expect a victory from them.  In reality for many athletes the Olympics is a very different beast than a world championships or world cup. For an athlete things like bizarre scheduling, slightly different rules and organization and, vast amounts of pressure can lead to mistakes that they wouldn’t normally make; add to that that some athletes train only to compete at the games and may not have competed at world cups or championships and you get the reason why the Olympics are fun to watch…They’re exciting and relatively unpredictable!!

I think it’s important to note that yes OTP set high goals and yes it looks like we might not reach them, but OTP isn’t some big embarrassment, it’s a framework for ensuring money is spent effectively and it is only five years old. Obviously OTP’s methodology will be reviewed and some things will change but the idea of having some goals and a cohesive plan as to how funding should be allocated is obviously not a bad one. There are probably other ways to do what OTP is doing and maybe now we will see some of them, but once again setting benchmarks and reviewing them is what any successful business, athlete, team…etc would do.

It’s easy to be negative and upset when not reaching the goals you’ve set, however that doesn’t mean give up it means review, adjust and try again. I think all of us spectators should forget about OTP and enjoy the Games for the Games sake and nothing more. Forget about OTP and what we’re supposed (truly one of the most infuriating things anyone can say about sports) to win, and focus on the journeys the athletes have gone through.  Remember when you’re celebrating a gold or upset about a last place that you’re probably watching the culmination of someones career and that they have spent enormous amounts of time, energy and, emotion just to have the honour to be there competing for their countries, so don’t be too hard on them.

Coming soon some video from sunny FLA featuring our German friends… and it was my birthday yesterday. Look at that face, what a sweet sixteen I am. 

Leave a Reply