I am not sure if it is because I have gotten older or because the world is more cynical, but I find it difficult these days to give a compliment without someone being offended. I therefore kindly ask that all you men out there please do not take offence when I say, Canadian women rock! They are simply the coolest people on the planet and I am ever so proud to be in the smallest way possible associated with them. It is not because they make up over 60% of our Olympic team and it is not just because they are responsible for all of our medals so far, not to mention Rosie MacLennan as the only Canadian gold medalist in 2012. It is because above and beyond all of their talents and skills, you get the feeling they are normal people that you just want to hang out with. Don’t get me wrong, they are not normal people. They train as hard as any athletes, they have an unstoppable passion and determination in what they do and above all else, they have the courage and confidence to let their very own personality shine through it all. There have already been so many stories about our women in the first few days of these Olympics and I am quite sure, there are so many more to come.
So where did this all start? As with anything within this country, it may seem that this indomitable, undefeatable female spirit started with the Canadian Women’s Hockey team. Their legendary Olympic and World Championship battles with the United States are now must see TV any time they clash. I dare anyone to find a more exciting finish to a hockey game than the one we had in Sochi 2014. We will never forget that overtime winner by Marie-Philip Poulin or the playmaking of Natalie Spooner. Hayley Wickenheiser has been associated with this team for so long that some of us believe she invented ice hockey. Their spirit seems to have been the stepping stone (at least that’s what I thought) to not only recognize how exciting women’s sports are, but what wonderful athletes and people they are too. But honestly, this isn’t the first time I have beamed with pride for our Nation’s better half. I began to wonder therefore if there is a correlation between our Canadian female athletes and the fantastic female music artists that came before them.
If you go back a decade (or two or three as in my case) you can always find a strong female presence. But during one stretch there, our women (and I hope saying ‘our women’ isn’t taken offensively and if it is please let me know) ruled the landscape winning on those ‘American’ award shows too. Shania Twain owned country and her personality helped define the New Country era. The unflappable Celine Dion is royalty in Pop music and wears her crown with complete class and elegance. Carole Pope, Diana Krall, Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne and so many others not only were successful but each radiated a personality that drew you in and made you want to know them better. It made you wish that at some point; somehow and in some way you could just sit down and have a beer together to talk about… anything. You believed that if you could just be around them enough, then you would be a better person. And quite possibly, you were.
It is that ‘cool’ that I see in this generation of Canadian women athletes. A cool that makes me so proud to be a Canadian man as I get to witness it on a regular basis, support it as best I can and eagerly await the next moment of brilliance. Their cool persona helps protects and fuel a passionate, competitive spirit. So take a good, hard look at a Christine Sinclair from our soccer team or a Jen Kish from the Rugby 7s. Keep an eye on basketball’s Kia Nurse and watch Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse, Meaghan Benfeito, Roseline Fillion and the other wonder women of the water grow before your eyes. These are women that I would want on my team; these are women that I am undyingly grateful to call fellow country(wo)men. They are leaders in their sport and in our communities. This is the power that Canadian women bring to the table. Something we should all be proud of.
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