Never prouder of our country

Sometimes I am a coward.
On Sunday afternoon, for instance, I found every excuse I could to not watch the Canada-U.S. gold-medal hockey game. I spent the afternoon in the garage sanding two pieces of furniture that I am making for the cottage.
I have this feeling that if I am watching a crucial sporting event, I will affect the outcome.
I know it doesn’t make any sense, but coincidence seems to bear some truth to this superstition of mine.
On Friday night, I chose to work in the garage and not watch the Canada-Slovakia semi-final until the third period, and it was then that Team Canada began to come unglued.
Sunday, with the hopes of Team Canada coming through with another gold medal (and having Canada earn the most gold medals ever of a country at the Winter Olympics), I chose the garage as my refuge.
I wasn’t going to watch. I wasn’t going to apply my jinx to Team Canada.
My wife would come and give me up dates . . . 1-0 after the first period . . . 2-1 after the second.
I continued sanding.
I had reached up to 330 grit paper on the ash. The wood was shining, and would take the stain easily. I continued to rub my hand over the silky-feeling wood.
I had the radio on as background noise.
CBC’s “Cross Canada Check-Up” was asking listeners, “If the Canadian men’s hockey team did not win this afternoon, would the Olympics be considered a failure?”
The sanders drowned out the talk. However, it was clear Canadians were much in agreement that the Olympics already were a success and were not dependent on the outcome of Sunday’s Canada-U.S. showdown.
As the third period ticked down, my wife came out and told me I should get inside to see the last minute of play as Team Canada was going to win the gold. The Americans had pulled their goalie.
I succumbed to the temptation. And with 24 seconds to go, the jinx happened—the Americans had tied the game.
I went back to the garage. I swept the floor. I dug out my fishing tackle and began sorting through the lures while planning strategy for the coming season. Anything to take my mind off the game.
I had just started sorting through a box of new lures that has accumulated in the past several years when the door to the garage opened and Marnie yelled, “Crosby just scored!”
I could watch the celebration.
It has been like that for 17 days.
Twenty-six medals, including 14 gold. What a record for Canada. We may not have achieved the most optimistic goals for our athletes, but our athletes have made Canada proud.
We also had more top 10 finishes than any other nation in the Winter Olympics.
And then, the closing ceremonies began with cities from St. John’s to Victoria seeing their streets flooding with Canadians celebrating Team Canada’s performance Sunday afternoon.
Our national anthem was sung 14 times officially at the games, and hundreds more unofficially as proud Canadians needing no encouragement spontaneously broke into singing “O Canada.”
The Olympic games has created a great pride in our nation. I suspect that when Vancouver bid for the games, the organizing committee may have hoped they would create a spark of patriotism, but didn’t think our staid, reserved manner would be ignited.
But it happened. The accomplishments of athletes from around the world are inspiring, and our Canadian athletes already have inspired a new generation of Canadians to aspire to be Olympians.
And I don’t think Canadians have ever been prouder of our country. Thank you, Olympians.

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