The Olympics are always good for a solid dose of inspiration. Last summer Olympics were the first where I had actually raced against some of the people that were competing, and the 2010 games were the first where some of the athletes were people I used to race against in short track. It all just brings it closer to reality.
I'm not really sure what my favourite moment of the Olympics was because there were so many impressive, goose bump raising moments. Obviously, the physical and technical feats of all the athletes are pretty impressive but I find the mental toughness of the games the most interesting and inspiring. And the Canadian athletes did a pretty darn good job of focusing mentally and getting done what they were there to do. Ignoring all the rambling about OTP and gold medals, and competing. We had one article passed on to us at camp written by Clara Hughes that was pretty interesting: http://sportatitsbest.com/2010/02/03/clara-hughes-part-2/. As a speed skater turned cyclist turned speed skater, her racing is pretty interesting to watch. Jasey-Jay Anderson's comment about just wanting to make good turns was also a pretty key one to me. It always seems so obvious but there are so many situations where just focusing on the process can be incomprehensibly hard. I got to see the women's XC 30km mass start up at Callaghan and watched some of the men's 50km on TV. Of all the sports in the Winter Olympics its probably the closest to cycling and seeing them push themselves the point of collapse is pretty inspiring and a good reminder to keep on pushing. And the fact that you can race for 3 hours and still! have a race come down to a sprint finish.
While I don't necessarily agree with a lot of the criticisms around OTP and the corresponding crackdown on the athletes at the beginning, it's still a good thing I think to see Canadian athletes being in it to win. Sure I don't think Melissa Hollingsworth should have necessarily had to apologize to everyone for a fifth place when she went out and competed and there were faster sleds that day... but for example Devon Kershaw's reaction to fifth place and wanting to be on the podium so badly is an important indicator. Canada got more gold medals than ever...and even for those that didn't, they wanted to be there and believed they could be. Personally, I think that's one of the most inspiring elements: the desire to just want to be able to go out and throw down. Not so much the medal count per se; that's more a by product of that attitude.
The outpouring of Canadian spirit and support was inspiring too. Being up at Whistler and in Vancouver and seeing all the red and white was pretty amazing. For a country that has a reputation for a lack of national identity we seem to have scrounged one together the Games. So maybe it will finally hit everyone that sport can be about more than just the physical activity...although that is important!
Final lesson I took away is go after what you want. It might seem cliched but it is true. Can't hurt to try. I took it to heart AND result: my April just got a whole lot more exciting! More on that later.