Olympics bring out great sense of pride

Watching the Olympics and the great performances put on by Canadian athletes, including those from the Thunder Bay region, one can’t help but feel a great sense of pride.
For me, that pride doesn’t just come from the winning of medals, but also from the monumental effort that is put forward by all of our athletes—and the values and principles they uphold while competing at the highest level.
On the national side of things, there is little doubt Alexandre Bilodeau has emerged as a superstar among superstars. While Bilodeau captured Canada’s first gold medal at a home Olympics, it is his demeanour and personal story that has elevated him to the status of national hero.
Unlike many of his fellow competitors, Alex isn’t flashy and doesn’t talk a lot; he just goes out and competes at the highest level. He is a humble, family-oriented young man and it was a great Olympic and national moment when he hugged his brother, Frédéric, and dedicated his victory to him.
It’s great that a Canadian finally won gold on home soil, but it was extra special because it was a person of Bilodeau’s character and stature.
We also can take a great sense of pride from the participation of athletes from the Thunder Bay area who are competing with tenacity and excellence. Two athletes from our area, Eric Staal and Haley Irwin, are members of our national hockey squads—and both have an excellent chance of winning gold.
In his spare time, Eric is the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes and one the most offensively-gifted players in the NHL. Haley, meanwhile, is a standout with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs who was named NCAA Rookie of the Year in 2007-08 and helped her team win the women’s national championship.
Both are at the top of their sport, and it is fun and exciting to watch them compete and excel against the best players from the rest of the world.
Jason Myslicki is another area athlete who may not be as well-known as Eric or Haley, but still is competing hard and doing Northwestern Ontario proud.
Jason is competing in his second Olympic Games in the Nordic combined events, each of which is comprised two separate events: ski jumping and cross-country skiing.
Instead of dwelling on a lacklustre performance by his standards after his first event, Jason used his time in the spotlight to honour his late father who would have turned 82 on the same day.
“Normally, I have more time to think about him but today, in the end, it was all about competition. Now, tonight, I’ll definitely give thanks and celebrate his birthday and everything he did for me.”
Jason made us all proud first by giving it his all in one of the Games’ most mentally and physically demanding events, and again after the event by reminding us that we never succeed alone or without the support of those around us, especially family.
All told, despite some setbacks on the organizational and logistical front, the Vancouver Olympics are off to a pretty good start and some wonderful personal stories are emerging.
We take great comfort that our youth in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario have such outstanding role models like Alexandre, Eric, Haley, and Jason.
They work hard, compete at the highest level, and are humble and family-oriented athletes who realize that winning is important, but not the only thing that matters both at the Olympics and in life.

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