Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Canadian History and Society: Through the Lens of Sport Virtual Museum of Canada


Video Transcript

[Footage of Kyle Shewfelt receiving gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. Announcer saying atop the podium and win Canada's first gold medal of these Olympic Games. Narrator - Pierre Lueders, image of 1976 Olympic Games poster, footage of lighting a cauldron and swimmers, image of Nancy Garapick in swimsuit.]

The elusive glimmer and promise of an Olympic medal evokes powerful emotions unmatched in the history of sport. In 1976, the Olympic Games were held for the first time in Canada in Montreal, Quebec. Canadian athletes performed courageously, winning eleven medals but failing to attain Olympic gold. Winning seven of Canada's eleven medals, female swimmers reflected the host nation's high hopes and expectations. Among them, 14 year old Nancy Garapick became Canada's only double medallist in 1976, winning bronze in 100m and 200m backstroke. Relentlessly challenging herself to work harder and improve, she believed the Olympic Games were a rare opportunity and was determined to make the most of it.

[Pierre Lueders - image of Cheryl Gibson and Canada flag flying behind narrator]

Winning silver in the 400m individual medley, sixteen year old Cheryl Gibson achieved a personal best time and also surpassed the world record. Both Gibson and Garapick were defeated by East German swimmers. In 1998, it was revealed the East German athletes had benefited from performance enhancing drugs as part of a state supported doping program that had taken place from the early 1970's to the early 1990's. Nancy Garapick and Cheryl Gibson had inspired Canadians with principled performances that reflected hard work, mental toughness, and discipline.

[Panned image of Calgary athletes, officials, mascots and volunteers at 1988 Olympic Winter Games, Hidy and Howdy, and torch bearers.]

The 1988 Olympic Winter Games held in Calgary, Alberta were superbly organized reflecting a tremendous volunteer effort that was heartfelt and community-oriented. Mascots Hidy and Howdy, polar bears attired in western wear, made the Olympic experience more fun and accessible for visitors of all ages. Organizers also reached out to all Canadians sparking "Olympic fever" with the torch relay that travelled through all provinces and territories.

[Image of lighting of cauldron at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, images of Brian Orser and Brian Boitano, both Brian's shaking hands.]

Despite a "best ever" training initiative, Canada once again failed to achieve gold as a host nation. A pair of silver medals in figure skating came to symbolize what the 1988 Olympic Winter Games meant to Canadians. Beginning with the dramatic showdown between American Brian Boitano and Canada's Brian Orser. Orser was performing under intense pressure as a six-time Canadian National Champion and the 1987 World Champion. Many Canadians believed he represented their chance to win a gold medal in 1988. After stumbling early in his long program, Orser chose to omit a triple Axel jump, losing the gold medal to Boitano by a slim margin. Orser accepted defeat with remarkable integrity and grace well aware that his toughest adversary had been self-doubt. His story reminded Canadians that excellence was not always defined by an athlete's final position on the podium.

[Pierre Lueders - images of Elizabeth Manley competing at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games]

Elizabeth Manley dreamed of winning an Olympic medal since she was seven years old. Experiencing failure early in her career, she developed a self-awareness learning her strength was in technical ability rather than artistic interpretation. After perfectly executing a challenging long program, Manley won the silver medal in Ladies' Figure Skating. Her joy of overcoming self-doubt in front of a wildly cheering audience emerged as the most powerful symbol of Canada's Olympic achievement in 1988.

[Images Karen Percy, Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall, 1988 Olympic Games medals, inside Olympic Oval in Calgary and ski jump at Canada Olympic Park, image of two torch bearers with lit torches at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, two torch bearers in front of an Inuksuk at the site of the Whistler ski jumping venue]

Despite many encouraging competitive performances, Canada's modest medal count in 1988 marked a turning point that led to improve national support for high performance athletes. A legacy of facilities and funds for training programs were left in Calgary and created a pathway for future success. When Vancouver was selected to host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, national sports organizations came together to improve the resources available to Canadian athletes preparing for Olympic competition.

[Pierre Lueders - image of ski jumping at Whistler, luge athletes, hockey players and panned image of women's gold medal hockey team at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games]

Primarily sponsored by the government of Canada, an ambitious "Own the Podium" program was launched in 2005. Enhanced excellence funding was directed for high performance training, coaching, and medical support towards prospective Olympic medal contenders. Empowered by these initiatives, the Canadian Olympic athletes collected 14 gold medals in 2010, a new record for any single nation in an Olympic Winter Games.

[Pierre Lueders - Images of Clara Hughes with gold medal, Gaétan Boucher speed skating and hugging a spectator, Clara Hughes cycling and with medal. Footage of Clara Hughes receiving medal and image of her holding her medal.]

Hosting the Olympic Winter Games created an enduring legacy of inspiration, personified in many ways by multi-sport phenomenon Clara Hughes. As a teenager, Clara Hughes recalled watching Canadian speed skater Gaétan Boucher race at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games on television. Suffering the effects of injury and age, his courageous effort in Calgary motivated Clara to pursue her own dream of excellence. As a cyclist at the 1996 Olympic Games, Clara experienced the pressure and elation of representing an entire nation. Winning two bronze medals she recalled, "I felt I was Canada on the starting line with the hopes and dreams of millions within, driven to fulfill my potential." Returning to speed skating, which she had first taken up at seventeen, Clara went on to win medals at the Olympic Winter Games in 2002 and 2006. By the time Hughes won bronze in the women's 5000m race at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, she had already become a legend. Honoured as Canada's flag bearer at the opening ceremonies, she was also celebrated as the first Canadian athlete to win medals at both the Olympic Games and the Olympic Winter Games.

[Images of athletes running with 1976 Olympic torch, ski jumping, Jennifer Heil with gold medal, speed skaters, curlers, and fans holding sign that reads Gold Canada Gold 2010.]

Hosting the Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games has positively impacted Canada's national identity. Sharing the hopes, struggles, and achievements of the athletes representing themselves on home soil, Canadians learned to understand the elation of victory and the devastation of defeat as never before. Important cultural benchmarks were created that inspired Canadians to see themselves united as a tenacious, hopeful people who dream big and work hard to fulfill their potential.

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