Canada’s Shameful Olympic Showing
By N Oji Mzilikazi
August 15, 2012
Canadians are a complacent lot. The way the nation embraced its Olympic haul of 18 medals: 1 gold, 5 silver and 12 bronze, one would swear it’s an accomplishment of note. Given Canada’s size, resources and wealth, it is shameful to say the least. Canada went to London 2012 with expectations of finishing medal wise – in the Top 12. It didn’t. Canada finished 13th. When gold is the standard of placement – Canada sits in the 36 spot.
Consider the Islamic Republic of Iran: Its athletes left London with 4 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze. And what is the average Canadian view of Iran? Combined, the “Banana Republics” of the Caribbean did better than Canada – 34 medals: Cuba 5 gold, 3 silver and 6 bronze, Jamaica 4 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze, Dominican Republic 1 gold and 1 silver, Trinidad and Tobago 1 gold and 3 silver, Bahamas 1 gold, and Cayman Island 1 gold.
If Canada truly wants to “own the podium,” there must be a greater investment in sports and by extension physical fitness. And it must start from the primary school level. From there one can note students with the aptitude, skills and gifts – and train and given them the kind of support financial and otherwise in order for them to be world champions. Athletic excellence brings pride to a country and spurs nationalism.
It’s a known fact that exercise prompts mental alertness and that a healthy body makes for a healthy mind. Therefore exercise is beneficial to everyone. Exercise is needed much more today given the high levels of obesity, increasing obesity rates, and technology engendering a sedentary lifestyle.
Mandatory physical education classes in primary schools cannot but contribute to a healthier nation and provide various sports with a pool of possible recruits. Canada funding for sports is woefully inadequate. If we have to do better in 2016, and excel in 2020, the federal and provincial governments together with the private sector must step up.