Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Jennifer Jones should carry flag for Canada
SOCHI, Russia - Forget the political and gender arguments and give the honour of bearing Canada’s flag in the closing ceremonies to Jennifer Jones.
The gold medal winner in women’s curling was the most dominant Canadian Olympian at these games. She set an Olympic record that can never be broken going 11-0 and swatting aside the most competitive women’s field ever assembled.
Which is it Canada? Are we about winning and being the best? Or are we about choosing due to gender or what language an athlete speaks? The numbers say it’s time for a Francophone male to carry the flag and there are lots of fine choices that fit such criteria, but if the new Olympic ideal in our country is about winning and excellence no one represents it better than Jones.
Just recall the words of Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut prior to these Games.
"Canadians are looking for the highest, the best. This is what Canadians want us to be. At the same time, our athletes are looking for the same thing. They would be absolutely disappointed if we didn’t have the highest objective," said Aubut.
"They put the highest pressure on themselves. They don’t need it from us. What we are doing is something that should motivate them even more. We talk about having a lower goal so when we come back home, no matter the result, we are still heroes. That’s not the Canadian way and it’s not the way of this Canadian Olympic Committee. We are not here to participate. We are here to win."
Jones slid out on to the ice and put the entire field on its ear. Leading from wire to wire and then ascending to the top of the podium. She represents excellence and commitment and most of all delivering in the moment. Jones is a winner to the core.
How about the statement of Chef de Mission Steve Podborski prior to these Games?
"What should we be? What should we do? We won’t stand here and tell you we want to ‘be in there and to do pretty good.’ We’re here to be No. 1. You don’t strive to be pretty good. We strive to be the best," said Podborski.
Again, that is Jones. She is the best, filled with more clarity in her sport than any other team or individual at these Olympics. She defined the moment. She forged it in gold. It stands forever. It’s complete and absolute and untarnished with the stain of a misstep.
"We’re really proud of that," Jones said, when asked about going 11-0. "We came out and played consistent from the start of the week to the final and put our best game on the ice, which is exactly what you want to do in the biggest sporting event on the planet. We’re going to have that little OR, Olympic record, next to our name forever. It’s crazy to me. It’s one of those records that can only be tied and never broken so we’ll always be remembered for it."
Jones was asked Saturday about the potential of being given the honour of bearing the flag and her immediate response was, "Stop it, you’re going to make me cry," which we’ve heard from her on a number of occasions this week. Jones might demand nothing but the best from herself, but it hasn’t affected her core. She’s not so wrapped up in her own achievements to miss what’s going on around her.
That’s another reason to like Jones. She’s humble and generous too.
"It would be such an honour, but just to march with Team Canada is the real honour," said Jones, her eyes glistening. "I can’t even begin to describe that. Obviously it would be a huge honour and I have no idea if I’m being considered. Just to be considered is an honour. I have so much respect for these athletes. To be in that category would be amazing. To be able to walk out with a flag in your hand for Canada, for this great country, representing all of these athletes, the biggest honour in the world."
Truly a big honour but one befitting of Jones. She’s the world’s best in curling and she’s also Canada’s best Olympian. Hand her the flag.
Updated on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 7:31 PM CST: Adds 'Scenes from Sochi' graphic.
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About Gary Lawless
Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.
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