There’s something about the Olympics. It spurns on a fervor in its spectators. You find yourself inexplicably investing in sports you never participated in, and in some cases, have never even heard of. For the sports you did participate in, you’re whisked back in time, oddly longing for crack of dawn practices and the euphoric adrenaline rush of competition. At least, that’s where we found ourselves this past week, watching our Canadian Olympic Sailing team on cellphones, iPads and in the most luxurious of occasions, actual televisions. We cheered and yelled at screens as a collective for Lee Parkhill as he came in 4th in his 9th race and  Tom Ramshaw came in 9th in his 5th race. We swelled with pride every time the team of Erin Rafuse and Dannie Boyd along with the team of  Nikola Girke and Luke Ramsey finished top ten, twice and 5 times each respectively. Brenda Bowskill pulled off a total of 4 top ten top 10 finishes as Jacob and Graeme Saunders competed in the men’s 470 for their first Olympic Games.

 

 

In then end, the hardware and standings were irrelevant, at least when viewed against the backdrop of the next generation of Olympic hopefuls. You see, while cheering on our Canadian team we were simultaneously following a bunch of teens in Lasers, 420s, 29ers  and Bytes as they competed at an international level in a sport they love. Like all athletes they look up to those that have gone before them, and in this case, those competing for their country. With every athlete we sent to Rio in a sailing event, these kids saw the hopeful pinnacle of their own athletic career. It sparks something in kids that may in fact be indescribable. Every kid dreams of greatness, to be the hero in their own story, but often the possibility of those dreams is shaped by the day to day realities they live with. Imagining yourself as an Olympic 49er FX sailor is a lot harder to picture when there’s no existing athlete to picture yourself as. Conjuring that image is made possible every time an Opti sailor looks at his award with a 49er FX etched in the plaque and is reminded that Boyd and Rafuse won OCR here in Kingston just last year.

 

 

So with every mark rounding by a kid in a Radial these past four days, with every 29er successfully launched and every coach that watched their athlete preform under pressure a new generation was born. There’s a great deal of talent residing in this new generation, and in the light of the 2016 Rio Olympics, a determination lit by their heroes.  So, I guess for our team returning home, let this be your podium moment, the year that you ignited a fire in the sport of sailing and pushed a group of hopeful athletes to see the full extent of their Olympic dreams and the sheer possibility of achieving it thanks to the road you walked before them.

 

 

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