Owning a general sense of accomplishment regardless of result - Macleans.ca

Owning a general sense of accomplishment regardless of result


Gary Lunn brings us full circle and back to our time-honoured approach to Canadian athletics.

Lunn says Canada’s medal total does not fully reflect the progress made by Canadian athletes. “Just in these Olympics, I think in top ten finishes, 51 top ten finishes as of today. So, you know, instead of saying, ‘You didn’t win this medal’ or ‘You didn’t win that medal,’ focus on our successes and also salute the Americans.”


Owning a general sense of accomplishment regardless of result

  1. I'm actually pretty happy with the performance of Canadian athletes in this Olympics, but warming our collective egos by expanding the definition of "good performance" to "as far down the rankings as we need to go to find lots of Canadians" is pretty lame.

    Being in the top ten means "you lost". Being in the top three means "you won or at least came close". It's that simple.

  2. You know what? He's right. Sure it would be better to have won medals, but we had contenders in all disciplines of figure skating according to projections, contenders that didn't materialize in skiing, our cross country team growth has been absolutely phenomenal given where it was a few years ago, Own the Podium absolutely has worked in terms of growing various sports across the country.

    • The cross country team is a great example, I think. The NBC crew on TV seemed downright FLABBERGASTED by the amazing performance of the Canadians in the 30K pursuit (5th, 8th, 9th and 16th) with a highest ever finish for a North American, and our worst finisher in that race 18 places ahead of the Americans' best, but I've heard very little about the cross country team's performance, due mostly I think to some of the other high profile misses (the Hamelin brothers and Melissa Hollingsworth being the most obvious examples). I'd hate for us to downgrade Olympic funding from "OK" back down to "horrible" because some people feel that "Own the Podium" was disappointing. It'd be terribly easy to throw away a fair amount of progress out of short-sightedness, but I think that's what we have in store.

  3. Being in the top ten means "you lost". Being in the top three means "you won or at least came close". It's that simple.

    I agree, but with one caveat. At least SOME of our athletes who are getting top ten results are performing OUT OF THEIR MINDS to do so, and I do think they deserve SOME credit for the achioevement. They get much less publicity than the legitimate medal contenders who fall short, but with some of our athletes their top ten finish represents a best ever career effort/achievement, and I do think that deserves at least some degree of congratulations. For example, none of our cross country skiers medaled, but I believe that Canadian Ivan Babikov's performance in the 30km pursuit was the highest finish for a North American in that event, ever, and I know that the NBC team covering the pursuit was HIGHLY impressed with the Canadian squad, who finished 5th, 8th, 9th and 16th in that event (whereas, for comparison, the highest ranking American was 34th).

    Not to say that we shouldn't focus on medals, but I do wish people would keep in mind that not all fifth place finishes are equal. Melissa Hollingsworth finishing 5th is pretty devastating. Ivan Babikov's 5th place performance on the other hand was pretty impressive, imho.

    • I catch your drift, and I don't mean to belittle the accomplishments of athletes who achieve personal bests in the Olympics. Certainly a to ten (or top 1000) finish is better than I'd get.

      That said, what you're essentially doing with items like "Babikov's performance in the 30km pursuit was the highest finish for a North American in that event, ever" is saying "but look how well we did compared to the US! (and Mexico!)" Which is lame. Who cares how we did compared to the US? In the 30km pursuit what matters is how well we did compared Sweden, not the US.

      We competed well, and all kudos to Babikov being the best Canadian we've ever had in the race and all the other athletes who are raising the bar for Canada, but what counts is being on the podium.

  4. Sentiment notwithstanding, funding will still be cut. It's simply not affordable in the current circumstances.

  5. Heh, reminds me of tje Beijing Olympics when, after a week of competition and zero medals, kayaker Adam Van Koeverden said that critics of that poor performance needed to, and I quote: "educate themselves". I pretty much gave up supporting Canadian athletes right then and there.

  6. The problem with Own the Podium and its evil cousin, mega-corporation advertising tie-ins, is that they couldn't just shut up and let the athletes' perfromances speak for themselves. All this stupid medal predicting is like trash talking before the game.

    Either it's worth supporting elite athletics or it isn't. How does the medal count change that?

  7. Who came up with the OtP slogan, Gary "Littleman" Lunn?

    • Actually, it goes back to 2005:

      "Own the Podium – 2010, or À nous le podium en 2010! in French, is a Canadian sport technical program launched in January 2005 to prepare Canada to become the top winter sporting nation in the world by 2010 — when Canada would host the Winter Olympics. This achievement would be measured by whether Canada becomes the top medal-winning nation at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, and places in the top three at the 2010 Paralympics Winter Games. To achieve the goals of 2010, the focus of the program was to provide additional resources and high performance programming to Canadian athletes, coaches and support personnel. The programme CEO is Roger Jackson[1]."

      It was a good idea — it got Canada to third overall in Turin, and although it looks like it'll probably fall short in Vancouver, Canadians are winning a lot more medals than they used to…

  8. Did Lunn use an intrusive after-midnight robot-dialler to figure this out? Since when did we need a talking bowling pin to tell us the obvious?

  9. Anybody who believed the 'own the podium' spiel was gull-e-bull beyond belief anyways. It really should be about the fact that Canadians can be among the best, can shoot highest and can reach its goals — but winning medals isn't the be-all and end-all.
    What it has done has helped get private business involved in investing in the athletic community, along with exposed more Canadians to some of the other sports and thus created interest and more athletic opportunities for the citizenry.

  10. I don't think we should apologize for "Owing the Podium" program, Canada is doing great! Why should we apologize for trying to excel and be the best? I am so glad that our athletes finally are getting the support they deserve, and I believe this is just the begining for what is coming ahead.

    • Well said. Canada shouldn't apologize for being ambitious.

  11. Saluting Americans comes naturally to Gary.

    • It depends upon how you rank the countries. We were indeed third in Turin in terms of total medals, but the table I was looking at as I wrote my column had us fifth, as it was sorted by total gold medals (which some consider a more "correct" way of ordering the medal success of countries. We had more total medals than Russia or Austria (we had 25, Austria 23, and Russia 22) however we only had 7 golds (to Russia's 8 and Austria's 9).

      If we do what I'd now like to see us do (more than 24 medals and double digit gold) I think we'd end up in third by any count, and given the tremendous success of the American team this year (even better than I would have thought, for whatever my opinion is worth!) I'd say a solid third with more than 10 golds could still be labeled a muted success).