Critics may say the "Own the Podium" project has failed for Canada because we will finish third in total medal count. However, the goal of "Own the Podium" was to get the younger generation interested in amateur sports and our athletes have done that. After watching hundreds of hours of Olympic coverage over the past two weeks, here are my top five memories from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics (hopefully the men's hockey final can be added to this list):
5. Alexandre Bilodeau - First Gold Medal: This medal might have been expected but it was the first gold medal won by a Canadian athlete on home soil. This story is especially touching when you see the relationship he has with his brother Frederic who has cerebral palsy. The pressure was very high early in the games and Bilodeau came through, making all of Canada proud.
4. Charles Hamelin - Two Gold Medals In One Night: Hamelin's performances might not have made as much noise because they happened during the Canada - Slovakia game but he was tremendous. First Hamelin won the gold in the 500 meters as the Korean skater fell in the last turn and then Hamelin and his teammates dominated the 5,000 meters relay. Short track speed skating is an exciting sport to watch and I'm sure a lot of young Canadians asked their parents if they could sign-up for this great sport after these performances.
3. Men's Hockey - Canada Defeats Russia: Only in Canada would a quarterfinal win in hockey be near the top of a list like this but I had to include it. Our hockey team was sensational on this night and it was extra sweet because it was against Russia, the other favourites to win the tournament and our hockey rivals of 40 years.
2. Jasey-Jay Anderson - Wins First Olympic Medal In His Fourth Games: Jasey-Jay Anderson worked hard for the past 16 years and despite earning 59 podiums in the FIS World Cup, few Canadians knew him. He changed all that yesterday by winning his first Olympic medal and it was especially sweet because it was a gold and it was in Canada.
1. Joannie Rochette - Wins Bronze A Few Days After Her Mother Passes Away: In 10 years, there are two things that Canadians will remember from these games: whether or not the men's hockey team won gold and Joannie Rochette's bronze medal after her mother passed away. Joannie inspired a lot of Canadians and is a hero for a lot of little girls who one day dream to participate in the Olympics.