I love sports, which means I love the Olympics. I’ll watch any event that is on. If I have to learn the rules or the optimal strategy, I will pay attention and learn it. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Summer or Winter, just hook it up to my veins.
The first Olympics I remember watching were the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics. They must’ve shown the outside of the Sydney Opera House at least three thousand times.
The most memorable moment from those Games was when Canadian triathlete, Simon Whitfield, fell during the bike portion of the triathlon, but got up and ran down the competition to win a gold medal. It was such an iconic performance.
I also remember Salt Lake City 2002. It took me a few years to realize that they were in Utah, which meant the United States were the host country. My Grade 5 teacher allowed us to watch the Canadian Men’s Hockey Team during class, using pipe cleaners to gain a reception.
I’m still not sure how we got the feed, or maybe school televisions actually did have real channels and no one ever wanted us to know.
In 2010, Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics and my university erected a large screen – from the floor to the ceiling – in the cafeteria, so we could all watch. Everyone sat on one side of the table for two weeks, not wanting their back to the screen.
The Olympics shine a spotlight on the athletes who participate in sports that don’t get much attention during a 24-hour news cycle. They show us – Canadians – that our country is so much more than a “Hockey Nation” if only we dared to look beyond the stack of hockey pucks.
Tokyo 2020 kicked off with tennis star, Naomi Osaka, lighting the Olympic Cauldron.
As I was watching, the only thought that crossed my mind was, “Naomi Osaka is the coolest person in the world.” I have yet to watch her documentary on Netflix, but I’m sure it will vindicate me.
The Canadian flag bearers were basketball player, Miranda Ayim, and rugby sevens player, Nathan Hirayama. Ayim is competing in her third and final Olympics, while Hirayama – and the men’s rugby team – are making their Olympic debut after missing out on Rio in 2016.
Being associated with the rugby world in the past, I was thrilled to see Hirayama as one of the flag bearers. I can tell you that him being in that position meant so much to the Canadian rugby community.
He is one of the best Sevens players in the world and deserved that honour.
This is where I tell you that if you haven’t checked out Rugby Sevens yet, please do. It is a lot of fun. Unlike traditional rugby, which is 15 vs. 15, this is only 7 vs. 7. Hence, Sevens.
There is no way the traditional game could ever be played at the Olympics – it’s too gruelling to shove that many games into a short period of time. So, Sevens is perfect. Each team can play two to three games in a day.
It is fast-paced, where anything can change within seconds. Each half is only 7 minutes, so the game will be done within 20 minutes. It is madness, really. Going into each game, there may be a “favourite”, but I am here to tell you that it doesn’t matter who the favourite is.
Anyone can beat anyone.
The Canadian Women’s Rugby Sevens team is a medal contender. At the 2016 Olympics, they won bronze. The core of that team has been together for a long time – close to 10 years.
Bianca Farella, Britt Benn, Ghislaine Landry, Kayla Moleschi, Charity Williams, and Julia Greenshields are some of the long-standing National Team members. They came up together and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re on the top step of the podium by the end of this.
The team has been through a lot this year, between filing a complaint against their former coach, who was ultimately removed, and a COVID outbreak.
Their first game is on July 28 and I can’t wait to see what they do.
The Canadian women came out of nowhere in 2016 and put swimming back on the map for Canada. Penny Oleksiak and Maggie Mac Neil are both only 21-years-old. Oleksiak already has five Olympic medals – which is a Canadian record she shares with two others.
Mac Neil is just getting started, having already won a gold and silver in Tokyo.
Beyond them, the depth runs deep with Kylie Masse, Taylor Ruck, Sydney Pickrem, Kayla Sanchez, Katerine Savard, and Rebecca Smith. Oh yeah, there is also 14-year-old, Summer McIntosh who finished fourth in the women’s 400m Freestyle – about a second and a half off the podium.
Her future is so bright and she will be collecting medals for years to come.
On the men’s side, they’re coming. Maybe not this year, but they’re coming.
The 4×100 freestyle relay team consisting of: Brent Hayden, Josh Liendo, Yuri Kisil, and Markus Thormeyer, set a Canadian record time in the Finals and finished 4th, about one second off the podium. They were ranked 16th in the world coming into the Olympics and no one expected them to be in the Finals, let alone come that close to a podium.
Quick shoutout to the 18-year-old Tunisian swimmer, Ahmed Hafnaoui, who won Gold in the 400m Men’s Freestyle. What an incredible moment!
Again, the Canadian women are the ones to watch here. Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrani-Beaulieu already won silver in 3m Synchronized Diving. It’s a great redemption story for Abel, who came back from Rio 2016 empty-handed.
Look out for Abel (individual event), and the team of Meaghan Benfeito and Caeli McKay (synchronized 10m). McKay suffered a foot injury in late-May, so she’ll be gutting this one out.
Simone Biles hasn’t looked invincible, yet. The pressure and expectations on her to be perfect are so high, I just hope she’s mentally okay.
No one really understands how gymnastics are scored, but all I know is that the gymnasts do things that would probably make all of my limbs fall off, so all my respect goes to them.
I am hooked on Softball. Along with Baseball, it returned to the Olympics for the first time since 2008 because Japan loved baseball. Both sports will be gone again in 2024 because France doesn’t love baseball? I am legitimate mad about this.
A whole generation of women’s softball players didn’t have the Olympics to aspire to. And now they dangled the carrot for 2020, only to take it away again. Ridiculous.
Softball is the sport of my youth, so I will defend it until the cows come home. It deserves a permanent spot at the Olympics. The pace of play is incredible and I just wonder how long it’ll take Major League Baseball to pick up on some things they can apply to their own league.
My guess is: a while.
Canada goes for bronze at midnight (ET) tonight.
It’s such a fun sport to watch on TV. The Canadian Men are the Olympics, while the Women are not, as the program is in a rebuild right now. Expect to see them at the Olympics in 2024.
My amateur scouting report on the Men’s team is that they are good, but can’t put teams away on a consistent basis. They won the first two sets against Italy, and then lost the next three sets, to lose the match.
Against Japan, every set was tight, yet they fell in four sets.
The talent and potential is there. It just needs to come out a bit more.
One of the most violent sports that you’d never think was violent.
My university roommate used to participate in intramural underwater hockey and would come back with swollen hands and fingers he couldn’t bend because of how aggressive it was.
I have so much respect for rowers. It looks absolutely painful, and yet, they power through. Not really a fan of big media boats following some rowers in their lanes, while other rowers have no one following them. Wouldn’t it be distracting to see a boat following you? I don’t know.
Speaking of media boats! Oh boy! We got a big one at the start of the triathlon. Let’s go to the footage.
This caused a false start. I have a lot of questions.
1. Did the race starter not see that GIANT BOAT? I mean, you can’t miss it.
2. Half the divers dove in, also not noticing the GIANT BOAT?
Okay, I’ll stop after two questions.
I thought it was hilarious. Probably not so funny for the individuals who swam 100 metres before being herded like cattle and told to go back to start.
The Canadian Women lost their first game to Serbia. The Men didn’t qualify for the Olympics. That’s a post for another time.
I don’t think “hot take analysts” understand how different the FIBA game is. Perhaps they were spoiled for so many years, that they didn’t notice. I think Team USA is in trouble and, at this point, it would be asking a lot for them to win Gold.
Yes, they’re talented, but so is everyone else. Look past the names on the back of the uniforms.
That’s just my outsider, non-American, opinion. You don’t have to agree with it.
I’m sure I’m forgetting some sports that I wanted to talk about, but I think I’ll end here for now. I guess I’ll be back in a few days to talk about the things that have yet happen.
Thanks for reading!
What events have you been watching?