Van Steps

Mobility Van Side Steps | Kargo Master

It is a little ironic that some of my most Canadian moments have happened so far away from home.

Or maybe it's perfect.

It doesn't get much more patriotic than marching in an Olympic ceremony with fellow Canadian athletes; my voice will never be too hoarse to scream O Canada with my fellow Olympians.

Watching the Tragically Hip concert at Canada Olympic House on Saturday night was like riding an emotional roller-coaster in a tropical storm of feelings with all of your best friends. When Gord Downie belted the songs that helped define our country's musical identity, we sang along with him. When he broke down and cried, so did we. We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger, and all I remember is sitting beside you.

The next morning I slept in a little and walked in the rain to Ipanema's best coffee shop. It's called Kraft, run by an Aussie dude and his Carioca wife. He told me he didn't know a thing about coffee when he opened the place, just that he missed a good flat white from Perth and he thought it was weird that Brazilians export their best beans. His joint was packed with Aussies, Kiwis and Brits every time I went for a coffee.

I walked to the bridge that goes over the little river that flows from the Lagoa (where the rowers and canoeists raced our boats) to the Atlantic Ocean. It was low tide so the water flowed out into the brackish abyss.

I thought about how it was all over. Not just the regatta, not just the 31st Olympiad, but my experience as a Canadian Olympian, too. I imagined the little river carrying our sweat and tears and dreams and quadrennial aspirations out to sea. Only less significant now, since they are a part of history rather than the present. Only smaller in the sense that they are among the sweat and tears of every Olympian who has ever left it all out there for the sake of a perfect effort.

I sipped my coffee.

Inspired by generosity

Rio is a real city. It was busy and bustling throughout the Olympics, not in defiance of the Games, but in the same way it just goes about its daily business regardless of what circus is in town. I rode my bike past commuters and kids trying to get to school every morning on my way to the venue. Everyone was polite and kind, even when I was riding on the sidewalk.

The attention a city receives when it is selected to host the Olympic Games may be a little superfluous, but I strongly believe it leads to an important conversation and a deeper understanding of world issues. Global ones such as climate change, which was one of the impactful themes of Rio's opening ceremony, as well as local issues such as the living conditions in Rio's favelas.

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