Red mittens are a Canadian ‘must-have’, no matter where in the world you live! Apparently people are queuing for hours in Vancouver outside the Bay for their pair. They have become a symbol of the huge upsurge of national pride that these second Canadian Winter Olympics have generated – by wearing them, you both signal your support and contribute (as official Canadian Olympic Committee merchandise, they help generate funding). As you can see, we splashed out on scarves and hats as well!
Canada has taken a lot of flak from the British press about the Olympics. I can’t help feeling this is misguided with London looming – talk about setting yourself up! We have felt considerable pride in our adopted nation, despite the glitches that are an inevitable element of any such event. I love that the Olympic torch travelled the country – the aim was that no Canadian citizen should have to travel more than an hour to witness its journey. What a wonderful commitment to the inclusive spirit of the Olympics! There is no doubt that this has contributed to the Canadian response to these games. It has also boosted national spirits in the wake of the 2009 recession. I am not alone in thinking that the ‘own the podium’ slogan got it wrong; I suspect it ultimately increased the pressure on Canadian athletes. More importantly, it seems to me to run counter to the Olympic ideal that what is important is participation. Perhaps ‘better than best’ might have captured this spirit better. Certainly we have cheered as so many young Canadians have exceeded personal ‘bests’, regardless of whether these have secured them medals. But we have also been moved by the spectacular performances the Olympics have drawn out of men and women of all nations. What does amaze me, though, is the level of aspiration. I know Canada is a ‘winter’ nation. But its population is less than that of California, just over half that of the UK and 11% of that of its neighbour (USA). As I write this, Canada stands third in the medal tables, with 15 medals, 7 of which are gold. Awesome! PS If any of our friends and family want their own pair of Red Mittens, we’ll do our best to acquire them – just let us know what size!