Monday, March 1, 2010

Bursting with Pride for my Country!

It's a well known fact that Lisa does not do early morning wake-ups cheerfully. Whenever possible, she does not do them AT ALL. But this morning was different. This morning Lisa felt excitement akin to the anticipation a 6-year old feels on Christmas Eve, as the alarm clock began clanging away at 4:45AM. Today, the Canadian Men's Olympic Hockey Team was facing off against the USA in the gold medal match. To be more specific, facing the US team again, after losing once already and fighting hard to make it back into the final game. And I was determined to watch, cringe and cheer with everyone else back home, regardless of whether or not the sun was up. So donning my Canada hoodie (which I bought in a moment of "I'm already homesick" at Pearson airport before returning to South Korea) over my pj's I headed to AA's apartment to watch the historic game. And, well, you know how it ends.

Is it just me, or was there something about these Olympic games that felt almost magical? Even from way over in South Korea, I could feel the buzz, feel the momentum building through out the last two weeks. Not just around the hockey teams, but all the games' events. Our nation was knitting together much closer than our geography would seem to allow. Unable to watch most of the events live to do the time change and Korea's Sports News channels insistence on replaying their speed skating and figure skating triumphs ad nauseum, I had to follow most of the excitement through internet reports from CBC and various status updates on Facebook. Even so, I definitely caught Olympic fever, the Canadian strain, and it's major symptoms: glowing heart, American-like Patriotism (the kind where you really do feel your country is better than everybody else's) and homesickness.

I found myself saying on more than one occasion, "How on earth did I manage to NOT be in Canada when we are hosting the Olympics?" as if those all the very rational and responsible reasons I came back to Korea for a second tour of duty no longer mattered. Talking with friends and family back home, you could hear the excitement and pride in their voices as we discussed our skyrocketing, record-breaking gold medal count and the big opportunities ahead to claim more hardware. Growing up, I remember always feeling alittle sad that our country's medal count usually kept us in the top 20, but not often in the top ten. It was often argued that for our small population size and the low amount of investment/sponsorship our athletes were recieving, any stop at the podium was a big victory. And now, finally, thanks to the "Own the Podium" iniative, our athletes finally got to really shine and on home turf too!

The Men's Gold Medal Victory match was the only portion of the games that I watched live, thanks to an online feed from an Australian sports channel. I'll have to satisfy myself with pictures of the opening and closing ceremonies, and perhaps, in a few months when the networks ease up on the copyright infringment, watch a few of the highlights on Youtube. Even so, in my tiny apartment in South Korea, I feel hugely, proudly Canadian and I'm celebrating with you all in spirit. See you in 7 months Canada!

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