The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

As of today, Canada has surpassed the total number of medals earned at the Athens Olympics in 2004, though still one gold medal short.

Not every one of the Canadian athletes who ended up in the top eight achieved Canadian national records but so many did: Dylan Armstrong (men's shot put), Brent Hayden (200 metre freestyle), Mike Brown (200 metre breaststroke), Julia Wilkinson (200 medley), Annamay Pierse (200 metre breaststroke), Jillian Tyler (100 metre breaststroke), both the men's and women's 4x100 and 4x200 metre freestyle relay. Ryan Cochrane not only broke the Canadian record in the 400 metre freestyle, but also now holds the Olympic record in the 1500 metre freestyle, though in the finals he came in two seconds short to win bronze instead.

Adam van Koeverden set a world record in his August 19 heat (men's K-1 500 metres), semifinals to follow on Thursday.

Records have been dropping like flies, and not only due to the introduction of the new Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit.

There have been photo-finish breaks. Melanie Kok and Tracy Cameron edged out the German lightweight double sculls by 0.04 seconds for their bronze. Dylan Armstrong missed his bronze by 1 centimetre. Priscilla Lopes-Schliep managed to edge out bronze in a field where second through sixth places differed only by 0.02 total seconds, and where Lolo Jones, who was the favourite and who had been holding a gold position until that moment, stumbled on the very last hurdle.

There have also been considerably more than three heartbreaking results: one cm short of the bronze in shot put, a point scored against in the final three seconds of wrestling, photo finishes which just broke against the Canadian swimmers or rowers, baseball games which persistently seemed to break at losses of one run: no shortage of good hits, but all of the Canadian hits somehow always seemed to end up where an outfielder already stood.

No fault to the athlete in any of these. That so many of these kinds of finishes are happening during these Olympics speaks to the outstanding quality of these fields. The athletes in these Olympics are achieving personal best after personal best, breaking national and Olympic and world records as they do so.

What more could we ask?

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