Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Editorial: Poor sports
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 20 Jan 2006, p. 6

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When did carrying Canada's flag at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics undergo such a dramatic metamorphosis from national honour to personal burden? This week's news that some of Canada's top prospects for podium finishes during next month's Winter Games in Turin, Italy have declined to be considered for the honour is, at best, disappointing and, at worst, unpatriotic behaviour. While few of us could possibly appreciate the magnitude of the pressure -- both mental and physical -- placed on the bodies and minds of our Olympic athletes, we question what has become of the heroic athlete who exudes national pride on the grandest of world stages? Among those asking not to be considered for the role of flag bearer during the opening ceremonies on Feb. 10 are cross country skier Beckie Scott, speed skaters Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen and 1998 Olympic champion bobsledder Pierre Lueders. The suggestion that carrying our country's colours might somehow jeopardize an athlete's chance of emerging victorious in Turin is pure fiction. In the last six Winter Games, four of Canada's flag bearers have medalled; three of them for gold, the other for silver. In 1984, speed skater Gaetan Boucher carried our flag prior to earning two golds and a bronze in Sarajevo. Three of our last six Summer Games flag bearers managed to bring home a combined four medals -- three golds and a silver. We would hate to think the me-first attitude of too many of today's professional athletes has finally supplanted the competing for national pride attitude that once defined the Olympic spirit. If these elite athletes want nothing to do with carrying their own country's flag in Turin, perhaps they can find something else to drape themselves in should they finally achieve their Olympic dream.

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20 Jan 2006
Personal Name(s):
Scott, Beckie ; Hughes, Clara ; Klassen, Cindy ; Lueders, Pierre ; Boucher, Gaetan
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Editorial: Poor sports