I read an article in La Presse yesterday that Olympian Audrey Robichaud had shared on Twitter (@AudreyRobichaud). It is one of my favourite articles about the 2014 Olympic Games.
I'm not sure of the legality of reproducing a newspaper article but my objective is only to share it with as many people as possible. Since the article is in French, I wanted to allow non-French speaking people the opportunity to read the message in the article.
Thank you to Jean-Pascal Beaupré for writing Les "sans-médaille". Click here to read the (better written) original article if you understand French.
I am not a translator or a journalist so my apologies that this will not give the article justice. The photo below which appears in La Presse is credited to Lionel Bonaventure, Agence France-Presse.
(literally translated as The "without medal"
it sounds better in French)
|Luck did not smile for all the athletes during the Olympic Games, with some returning |
home empty-handed, like the members of Canada 3 four-man bobsleigh
They don't return home with a medal around their neck. Without a podium, they will be relegated to the dungeon of Olympic history.
These athletes, however, deserve more recognition for their brilliant performances during the Games.
It's true that everyone's attention is dedicated to the medal count. The Canadian Olympic Committee program is named Own The Podium.
For the majority of athletes, however, owning the podium is not their reality. No medals and no major sponsors to ensure their financial future.
There are those who grazed the podium like Brady Leman (4th in ski cross), Jean-Philippe Le Guellec (5th in biathlon sprint) or Maxence Parrot (5th in slopestyle). The most frustrating result, so close and yet so far.
There are those who were supposed to defy the odds, those who could hope for a medal if all the stars aligned in their favour, namely Marie-Michèle Gagnon (9th in alpine slalom) or Valérie Maltais (short track speed skating).
Sometimes, with equal talent, it's simply a contest of circumstances - injury, fall, soft snow, disqualification, judges' scores... - that separates the winners from the non-medallists. Sometimes the podium worthy are so numerous that chance is the determining factor. The unfortunate in this category include Erik Guay (10th in downhill) and Alex Harvey (cross-country skiing).
Then there is the majority, those athletes who arrived in Sochi to reinforce Pierre de Coubertin's message: "the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." Although they dream of winning a medal, the majority of the competitors who qualify for the Olympic Games are fully conscious that their chances of reaching their dream of medalling are almost nil. They know where they stand due to their World Cup performances during the four year cycle between the Games. They'll finish 20th, 30th or 40th, outside of the television viewers' radar.
Of course, surprises and small miracles will happen. Favourites will fall opening the door for the overlooked (Charle Cournoyer's bronze). A competitor inspired by the occasion of the Games will lift his/her performance and come out of nowhere to win a medal (American Andrew Weibrecht in Super-G). This is the exception that proves the rule.
It's natural to extol the athletes who reached the podium, but in doing so, we oftentimes have the tendency to leave the others behind who also are part of the world elite, who also made the same sacrifices to become la crème de la crème. When we are 5th, 10th or 20th in the world, especially in very competitive sports like cross-country skiing and alpine skiing, should we not be amazed by these performances?
So the next time we are impressed, with good reason, by the accomplishments of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, Denny Morrison or Patrick Chan, let's also have an respectful thought for those who performed in the shadows of their winning teammates, Audrey Robichaud (10th), Mathieu Giroux (19th) or Gabrielle Daleman (17th) who left Sochi with their small happiness.