Saturday, December 20, 2008

Top 20 Canadian moments of 2008

Thanks to Craig Taylor for the image

This article was in the National Post paper this morning:

Top 20 Canadian moments of 2008
Sean Fitz-Gerald, Bruce Arthur, Joe O’Connor and Daniel Nugent-Bowman, National Post
Published: Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nobody finishes second like Canadians finish second. If they gave out a gold medal for a second-place finish in 2008, Canada would probably have won, unless another country edged it out a few metres from the finish line.

Cutting to the section about Simon:


1. A silver stretch run

As the heat suffused his skin, as pain burned in his body, Simon Whitfield was watching the men's triathlon run away from him at the Beijing Olympics.

He had been in a similar position eight years before, and then, the little lean man from Kingston, Ont., had tapped some secret reserve of will and sprinted past everybody for the gold. Then, it felt like a miracle. Of course, then, he was 25.

This time, though, he was falling away from three younger men, including the top two triathletes in the world. The gap reached 40 feet or so with about a kilometre remaining. Whitfield's coach, Joel Filliol, thought to himself that after everything, it just wasn't going to happen.

"Normally," he would say, "when you get dropped, that's it."

Except that eight years after Sydney - eight long years of training, of racing, of getting married and starting a family, of pondering retirement - there was one miracle left. Whitfield threw his visor aside, and he reached for whatever was left, and three words flashed in his mind: Sing like Kreek.

And Whitfield closed the gap. He thought of Canadian rower Adam Kreek bellowing the Canadian anthem on the podium a few days earlier, and he emptied himself of will. And with 100 metres to go, our boy was alone in front as in the crowd, his coaches were screaming out, "Sing like Kreek!" And for a moment under a Chinese sun, anything was possible.

It was not enough, of course. Jan Frodeno of Germany had a little more, and he kicked past Whitfield to finish five seconds ahead, and Whitfield earned a silver. But what a silver it was.

"That's got to be the best race of his career," Filliol would say. "All things considered, that's got to be the best."

Yes, it was.


Read the full Top Twenty Canadian moments of 2008 here