For the Love of the Games Part V

27 02 2010

“I don’t think the Olympics are even about sport, they’re about the dream, they’re about the power of the human spirit.”

These words, spoken by Olympian Ruben Gonzalez, resonated as I watched Canadian figure skater, Joannie Rochette dance across the ice last night in the women’s Figure Skating final.  Only a few days ago the 24-year-old captured the hearts of international audiences when she stepped onto the ice for quite possibly the most gutsy of performances.  Just hours before having her Olympic dream come true, the six-time Canadian figure skating champion was dealt a devastating blow with the tragic death of her mother.

There was already an enormous amount of pressure on Rochette before the commencement of competition, with many predicting she would become the first Canadian woman since Elizabeth Manley in 1988 to stand on the podium.  But dressed in black, Rochette wiped her eyes and took a deep breath to compose herself before launching into her short program on Wednesday night (Australian) where she placed third.

To be able to go out knowing that she was competing at an Olympics, and to be able to put her grief to the back of her mind to pull out such a valiant performance was nothing short of amazing.  Skating to ‘Samson and Delilah’, the intense quiet of the audience – as if they had been holding their breath – made for a beautiful moment.  Rochette received her best ever free skate score of 131.28 for an overall 202.64 and secured the bronze medal. 

Rochette admitted that it had been difficult to compete, but that thousands of messages of support from people around the world boosted her.  She brought an 11,000-strong crowd to their feet with her final performance last night, and I’m sure that if her mother Therese could have been there, she would have been immensely proud.

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