Nearly two weeks ago, I wrote a piece describing the nationalism, pride and glory that ran through the veins of a nation as Alexandre Bilodeau brought Canada their first gold medal on native soil. I called such a victory the perfect storm that allowed us Canadians at home and abroad to embrace the identity of unapologetic champions -- laying down our shields of humility and humbleness. At the time I wondered, along with every other Canadian, what could possibly be better than this? Well, it turns out a heck of a lot. In fact, looking back at our first gold, we were just getting warmed up. Gold rush aside, there's one thing we love more than medallions, and that's competing against our American neighbours, especially on ice.
When it comes to rivalries, Canada and the United States have a very special relationship -- one that vies for prestige rather than power. Emblematic of such contention was Sunday's collision between the two for the Olympic Gold in men's hockey. A fierce overtime concluded when 22-year-old Canadian Sidney Crosby capitalized on a golden opportunity, marking a momentous moment in our nation's history, and in the process setting the record for most gold medals won in any Winter Olympic Games. In short, Canada had achieved greatness.
Openly touting our successes is foreign to our culture, for we have always cloaked ourselves in the red and white cape of modesty. But at these Olympic games, the culture of a nation was tested, and the verdict is in: What was once seen as arrogant at worst and impolite at best, the hunger for first place is now part of our nation's DNA.
Growing up, I was always advised to set recklessly ambitious goals, for when your crosshairs are in the sky, you never cease to capitalize on the most unlikely of opportunities. Whether applied to an individual or a nation, it is exactly this process that transforms goodness into greatness. It is this reckless, yet healthy spirit of unreasonable aspiration that sparked Canada's $110 million campaign to "Own the Podium" at these Olympic games. And while we placed 3rd in the overall medal count, we managed to amass 14 gold medals, seven silver medals and five bronze medals. Breaking historical records was not something we set out to do, but I can assure you, we wouldn't have stood a chance preparing for the Games if we merely hoped for the best.
While there were those who criticized, and even laughed at the very thought of Canada pursuing such an egotistical initiative, I would argue that such ingenuity changed the course of our nation's history. Indeed, the first gold laid the foundation for many, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it best, "nothing breeds success like success."
Surely, we have only just begun.
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