John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


Australians raining on Bilodeau’s parade

As Canadians across the country celebrated Alexandre Bilodeau’s freestyle moguls victory – the first Olympic gold won by a Canadian on home soil – the Australian delegation started to pour themselves a glass of fine whine.

According to Dan Silkstone of the Sydney Morning Herald, the judges had put Bilodeau over Australian athlete Dale Begg-Smith who had to settle for silver to satisfy the Canadian hosts.

“It was the scores allocated to Bilodeau's turns - not traditionally his strong suit but Begg-Smith's undeniable strength - that had some in the Australian camp asking questions,” wrote Silkstone.

He then cited the Australian team’s high performance director, Geoff Lipshut: “My own opinion is probably that Alex is not capable of a 4.8 or 4.9 for turns. Just not capable.”

Lipshut did allow that Bilodeau out-paced Begg-Smith, an important criteria that judges always consider during competition.

“Dale could have been quicker,'' Lipshut said. “That's the bottom line: if Dale is three-tenths of a second quicker, Dale wins … You can say all the little things that you want, they are all small things. But you are probably not going to win by that. He had to be faster.”

So by the Australian delegation’s own admission, Bilodeau deserved to win, they’re just very disappointed. Silkstone, like many foreign journalists in Vancouver for the Olympics, are trying to make hay with Own the Podium and the Canadian Olympic Committee’s attempts to win as many medals as possible.

The British are also ragging on Canada’s Own the Podium program, but it comes across as just more bitterness. After all, what should Canada do? Not try to win? Not do their best? Nonsense.

Yes, Bilodeau’s win over Begg-Smith could be viewed by some as an upset, but thems the breaks. Sometimes underdogs come out on top.

Aside from some frustrated Aussies, no one has suggested that Bilodeau’s victory was anything less than legitimate.

Silkstone and his contacts on the Australian team are just chewing on sour grapes. At its core, the Olympics are about competition. Canada is finally stepping up its game and applying itself to winning as many medals as possible. Canadians can, and will, combine sportsmanship, class and athletic success at the Vancouver games.

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  1. The British journalists have been outrageous – I can’t wait to see what the British performance in the 2012 Olympics will be. They have their own version of ‘Own the podium’ ramping up performance in certain sports so that they won’t be embarassed on home turf, but I expect that their athletes will do the gentlemanly thing and let the visitors win.

  2. I think (and hope) that the Own the Podium program will be one of the legacies of the Vancouver Games. Canadian amateur athletes have at times struggled to make ends meat and it was about time that the government and private sponsors stepped up to help them. Looking back to Calgary, one of its greatest legacies was not the infrastructure or national pride that the games brought, but a high school dedicated to amateur athletes so they could better balance training with education.

    I think the British press are reading the program the wrong way (and maybe that is partly that those running Own the Podium have attempted to exist in partial secrecy- think about the tape that snowboarders/ skiiers had been wearing to cover the new technology on their equipment). Own the Podium is about letting our athletes do what they do best. Providing them with the means, equipment and support staff that will allow them to perform at their peak. It is about winning, but more about reaching our sport potential.

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