The Olympic Games don’t end with a gold-medal victory or even closing ceremonies. At their best, the Olympics don’t ever end – they pass the torch.
We marvelled at what our Canadian athletes were able to do, but the very best outcome of the Olympics is what they could inspire any of us to do.
Canadian sports heroines and heroes were created this month in Rio de Janeiro. True, they were already heroes, in a way, but the Olympic competitions created a connection with Canadians; we were able to share in the triumphs of our athletes.
That connection will fade now that the closing ceremonies have happened, but it will endure in some significant ways.
We know there are children here who were engrossed watching the gymnastics or track and field, for example, and ran out into their backyard afterward to imitate the competitions, and are now needling their parents to sign them up with their local clubs.
We know there are kids who wouldn’t normally sit down and watch an NHL game, but cheered themselves hoarse over a swim race. By providing exposure to a host of different games and competitions, the Olympics can offer alternative perspectives about sport and what it means to play.
It’s meaningful, too, that our country’s female Olympians were so successful, winning the first 12 medals for Canada.
With girls and women still accounting for just 42 per cent of sports participation in B.C., it’s important to find ways to get them in the game and maybe wrapping up sports in a package of high stakes, high emotion and national pride can be a motivator.
Canada’s Olympians had us on the edge of our seats and maybe they can get us right up out of those seats, active, fit and healthy. We may not be able to emulate their exploits, but we can be inspired by them.
As long as there are Olympics, we will need representatives to carry the torch, pass the baton, bear the flag. Who will they be? We look forward to finding out.