Aug 17, 2021
For many of us, the end of the Olympics means the end of serious couch surfing and binge watching. It is the end of being able to sit down and tune in to any one of 3 or 4 stations carrying around-the-clock coverage. It means we have to wait 3 more years to perfect our burgeoning expertise in judging diving, gymnastics and synchronized swimming. The end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for the athletes means the end of a quadrennial of detailed, intense planning and training. For some of those athletes it means the end of a lifetime of competing.
The long-awaited Tokyo games were an overwhelming success for Canada, no matter the metrics used. Whether it be gold medals won (7), or total medals (24). There were also many Canadian records set and personal bests achieved. Quite possibly the most amazing achievement of these games, no Canadian athletes tested positive for Covid-19. To fully appreciate how far we have come as a country at these Olympics, we need only look backwards. The first set of games held in Tokyo in 1964, Canada won 4 medals. We truly have come a long way.
These games will long be remembered for medals won by Penny Oleksiak and the women in the pool. For Damian Warner and Andre De Grasse on the track, and who will ever forget the amazingly stubborn, underdog women’s soccer team. Tokyo 2020 will also be remembered in this country as the women’s games. Canadian women brought home 18 of Canada’s 24 medals. Included in this total were firsts in women’s judo, sprint canoe and solo sailing. No recap of these games would be complete without speaking of another couple of non-sport specific moments that will have long-lasting effects. First, we had Quinn, the first openly trans, non-binary athlete win a gold medal in women’s soccer. Secondly, we had the topic of mental health thrust into the middle of the Olympic pressure cooker.
For the most part, the viewing public is hyper-focused on the podium finishes and the medal count. The Olympics, though, are so much more than that. For many, just meeting qualifying standards are the achievement of a lifetime. Tokyo played host to over 11,000 athletes from around the globe. When you consider that there are only 339 medal events it is easy to see that the vast majority leave without a medal, or even within sight of a podium.
If there is one, extremely small silver lining to these games being pushed back a year, it’s that Paris 2024 is less than 3 years away.
Don’t worry if you can’t wait that long, the Tokyo Paralympics start on August 24.