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Monday February 15, 2010 12:24 pm

Bilodeau captures first Canadian home-gold




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, Editorial, Olympics,

Alexandre BilodeauCanada has finally got that monkey off its back. On Sunday night in Vancouver, Quebec-born Alexandre Bilodeau won the gold medal in men’s moguls at the Olympic Games. His historic achievement marks the first time a Canadian athlete has won a gold medal on Canadian soil. When Canada hosted the 1976 Winter Olympics in Montreal, they finished with five silvers and six bronze. In Calgary in 1988, Canada won two silvers and three bronze. The home-gold medal had eluded Canadians for over three decades, but the long wait is officially over.

The 22-year-old beat out Australia’s Dale Begg-Smith, the reigning Olympic champion. Begg-Smith is Canadian-born, but competes for the land down under. Bilodeau finished second overall in the qualification run, but his incredible jumps in the medal round combined with having the second-fastest run of the night scored him 26.75 points, edging out Begg-Smith’s score of 26.58. On the podium, Bilodeau was overcome with emotion as he was awarded his gold medal while the hundreds of Canadian fans thundered their approval.

Canada began the “Own the Podium” campaign years ago in an attempt to capture as many medals in Vancouver as they could. As a rising power in the Winter Olympics, they are hoping the home-ice/hill/snow will not only allow their athletes to show the world what Canada is all about, but also show that they’re not the friendly pushovers that stereotypes paint them as; they’re also capable of competing at the highest level in far more than just a hockey rink.

The 2010 Winter Olympics are just four days old and so far Canada has roughly as many medals as they were projected to have, but their greatest strengths come in the sports ahead, including figure skating and team sports like curling and, of course, hockey. Now that Canada has officially got that first gold medal out of the way, the pressure for every other Canadian athlete is off and they can all focus on adding to the totals. The Own the Podium program is underway, and for many Canadians, it is already a success.

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