EDITORIAL: When even the worst are among the best
Consider a hockey player like Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Mason is a goalie for the club and, arguably, the worst netminder in the National Hockey League.
But, consider that the NHL has only 60 goalies (a starter and backup for each of the 30 teams) and those 60 goalies are the best in the world.
With that perspective, Steve Mason — quite possibly the worst goalie in the NHL — remains among the very best netminders on Earth.
Such is the viewpoint that should be taken when we look back at Canada’s performance at the Olympic Summer Games in London.
Yes, the 18-medal tally was underwhelming, particularly when only one gold can be found among the majority of bronze.
However, even Dylan Armstrong’s fifth-place finish in the shot put and Catharine Pendrel’s ninth-place showing in mountain biking mean they are among the very best in the world in their respective sports — even without a gold, silver or bronze medal that is handed out once every four years.
An Olympic medal is prestigious, to be sure, but it really does signify a snapshot in time, one moment among millions every four years.
Pendrel is the reigning world champion in cross-country mountain biking, a title that requires consistency spanning many races in a season.
Armstrong is a Diamond League champion, an honour that also requires consistency in event after event.
In London, Pendrel and Armstrong had off-days.
It happens to even the best in the world.
The point, though, is Pendrel and Armstrong and the rest of Canada’s athletes who competed under the Maple Leaf have far more on-days.
As the Olympics go to sleep for another four years, the athletes continue competing, away from the spotlight and media frenzy, riding and tossing with their eyes fixed firmly on Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Perhaps then, the snapshot in time will be golden.