May 23, 2015


Flag for Clara

There were some extraordinarily high expectations of Canadian Olympians heading into the London Games. Canadian Olympic officials had hoped for more than 20 medals, a goal that defies the country's humble record at Summer Games. And yet, despite some obvious disappointments, Canadians have reason to celebrate.

Canada will come out of the Games a solid bronze performer and should finish in the top 12 or so for total medals. But there is much to applaud, including among athletes who missed the podium. Aside from the historic bronze from a women's soccer team that last year looked doomed, there was triathlete Paula Findlay, hobbled by a hip injury diagnosed late, who placed last but bravely toughed out the last metres of her run. Canadians could only have been proud of the spirit on display.

And former Winnipegger Clara Hughes, in her sixth and last Olympics, cycled to fifth in the time trial, laying it all out in "38 minutes of suffering." Later, she revealed she did so with a damaged vertebra, broken at the national competition in Gatineau three months ago.

She just missed the chance for a record seventh medal, but Ms. Hughes has given this country an admirable run, and remains Canada's greatest Olympian. It is why she carried the Maple Leaf in the Vancouver Games' opening in 2010. A fitting thanks now would be to hand her the flag for the closing ceremonies on Sunday.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 10, 2012 A14

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