The 21st Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver got off to a tragic start with the death of a Georgian luger in a high-speed crash during a training run on the morning of the opening ceremony. The games were also marred by some minor mishaps, like the malfunctioning of the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony. But overwhelmingly, the games, which came to a close on Sunday, must have filled all Canadians with great pride.
In his speech at the closing ceremony, Mr. John Furlong, chief of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the games, said, “I believe we Canadians tonight are stronger, more united, more in love with our country and more connected with each other than ever before. These Olympic Games have lifted us up.”
Apart from its success in hosting the games, Canada also performed strongly in competition. For example, Canada beat the United States for gold in both the men’s and women’s ice hockey. Canada was the third most successful nation in terms of medals won, with a haul of 26, following the U.S. (37 medals) and Germany (30 medals). The host nation’s 14 gold medals is a record high in the history of the Winter Olympic Games. This is a great achievement for Canada, which was unable to win a single gold medal in the two other Olympic Games held on its turf — the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. Clearly, its “Own the Podium 2010” project — which cost C$117 million, including C$66 million in taxpayers’ money — paid off.
Japan won three silver medals and two bronze — an improvement on its tally in Turin four years ago when it won only one, albeit gold, medal. Women’s figure skater Mao Asada successfully executed three triple axels but still had to settle for silver behind her South Korean rival Kim Yu Na. In the women’s speed skating team pursuit, Japan just missed out on the gold, finishing a mere 0.02 seconds behind Germany. South Korea won 14 medals (six of them gold) and China won 11 medals (including five gold). Looking toward the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, we hope the government and firms will work to nurture Japan’s outstanding athletes so as to build on the results in Vancouver.
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