There are very few moments in a country’s history when we are presented with a hero. The last time I can really remember something of that magnitude happening was Terry Fox who if you don’t know, was a 21 year old man who had his leg amputated from cancer. This 21 year old man decided to run across Canada with one prosthetic leg. Even to this day, the name Terry Fox elicits feelings of intense patriotism, and always give you a burst of courage.
When we started these Olympic games, we didn’t have a clue that we would be presented with another such hero. Under heartbreaking circumstances, a new hero emerged…her name is Joannie Rochette.
Joannie Rochette is a 24 year old figure skater from Quebec and the only real contender for Canada in women’s figure skating in a very long time. She placed 5th in Turin in 2006, and is a Silver Medalist in the World Figure Skating Championships. Every step of the way, her mother was right beside her. Being poised to be top 5 in Vancouver 2010, Joannie embarked on what is now one of the most inspirational stories in Canadian history. You see, 2 days before Joannie was set to compete, her mother died of a heart attack soon after arriving in Vancouver. It was the most horrible news she could’ve heard and Canada along with the entire world, mourned the loss with her.
This is where Joannie takes on the strength and courage of not just an Olympic champion, but of a hero the likes of which we haven’t seen in my opinion, since Terry Fox.
When most of us would bow out of competition, Joannie kept going.
This past Tuesday, Joannie skated her short program. No one was ready for what they were about to see. This 24 year old Canadian angel, with the strength of her mother and an entire nation behind her, skated an INCREDIBLE short program. She placed 3rd which, under the circumstances, was uncanny. As soon as her routine was finished, she burst into tears…as did the entire country. For me personally, I have never experienced something so emotional, and I don’t think I ever will again. Joannie was not only showing the strength, courage and skill of a hero, but her and her mother’s Olympic dream of a medal was in reach.
After Joannie’s amazing performance on Tuesday, Wednesday ended up being our most incredible day in these Olympics. We won a gold, two silver’s and a bronze. All by women who no doubt were inspired by the courage of this young woman.
Joannie’s skate on Thursday was even more emotional than Tuesday’s skate. She started in 3rd position, and after a near perfect skate, ended in third position. It was the bronze medal that was more important than any Gold medal won by any athlete in these games. More important than Bilodeau’s, more important than Virtue and Moir’s. Why do you ask? For one simple reason. When Joannie was presented with her medal, the happiness she displayed was worth more than any medal, in any games, ever.
She looked at her medal, and looked towards the sky. Her and her mother’s lifelong dream accomplished.
And we as a country will always remember that no matter how hard things get, that if Joannie Rochette was able to get the strength and the courage to do what she did, then there is absolutely nothing we can’t accomplish.
At least I will.