Monday, March 01, 2010

Olympic reflections

It's fair to say that Canada's Olympic party could not have ended with a better script than the one delivered by the Men's Hockey team yesterday. An overtime goal to win the gold medal, scored by Sidney Crosby. It would be hard to believe if I hadn't watched it myself.

I'm still buzzing from the last 17 days. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from the Vancouver Olympic Games. I knew they would be good - they always are. The highs and lows are always profound and shared by everyone. But I wasn't sure how the actual event was going to compare to the expectations. As it turned out, there was no need to worry.

We exceeded all expectations. Canada proved it is a competitive powerhouse but it also showed the world a unique identity. We are a country that embraces diversity yet shares a passion. We have a fierce determination but we don't conquer. We welcome all. We're good hosts. And we have amazing scenery.

The long march of the Olympic Flame across the country was a master stroke of organization, bringing communities everywhere into the Olympic family and making us all hosts to the world. That shared enthusiasm and excitement was contagious and best of all, it didn't depend on gaining the attention of the media to be successful. It worked at the local level and the buzz it created spread organically. The media was a part of it but it wasn't responsible for it.

One feature of the Games coverage that wasn't around last time was Twitter, which brought a new perspective to the entire Olympic event. When the flame relay began here in Victoria, I shared the excitement with a whole whack of followers, who were posting their instant comments and updates in real time. It was a new way of experiencing what was happening.

The opening ceremonies were great to watch on TV but the comments, back chatter and excitement from the Twitterverse was even more fun. My favourite moment came after the fourth arm of the Olympic cauldron failed to rise out of the stage. "Don't fault us for not getting the torch up in time, Canadians invented insulin not viagra," wrote Joseph Uranowki, in a tweet that was instantly picked up and retweeted by hundreds.

Throughout the Games, I watched the TV coverage while keeping an eye on the Twitter feed, which was often a lot more entertaining - especially when the commentators got a little distracted. It was like sharing the show with a room full of sometimes witty, highly opinionated but ultimately enjoyable friends. I like it.

Who knows if we'll see another Olympic Games here in Canada anytime soon. I doubt it, given the massive investment it requires. But today, in the afterglow of the event, it does seem worth it. And maybe that's enough reflection for now. Let's enjoy the feeling.

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