8/28/2004

Oh Canada!

If, like me, you live in the USA you know that the Olympics coverage on NBC TV is pretty much jingoistic sentimental crap. As an expatriate Brit and one time resident of Canada I thank God daily during Olympic times for the fact that I live close to the northern border of the US and the presence of Canadian TV on our cable system, in particular the CBC.

Now, it's become apparent that the CBC has been taking a leaf from NBC's big book of schlock, but fortunately they are slow learners and so the wall to wall coverage of all sports is still pretty much intact and the Canadian schlock is almost cute in its naivete. Also, the lack of Canadian medalists (with a few notable exeptions) means that they pretty much have to show other countries winning medals.

Anyway, with the Olympics wrapping up I am constantly reminded of the strange duality (or even triality if that's even a word) of my nationality. I'm a Brit. Born and bred. Still have the passport (recently renewed even). However, moved to Canada and lived in Montreal for four years. Still love Canada madly (best national anthem ever - easily), if not the Montreal winters. Almost got Canadian citizenship before moving to the US.

Living in the US is different than living in Canada. Well, duh, you might say, but the dynamic is very different. Canada, like Britain, is for the most part a self-effacing nation. We both get embarrassed easily and hesitate to trumpet our own accomplishments. The USA, on the other hand, is an in your face kind of place. All the time, and double when sports is on the line.

With this triune nationality I always wonder if there ever will be a time when I cheer for the US over Britain or Canada. Well, it hasn't happened yet. It absolutely made my day today when the British men's team pipped the US 4x100m relay team at the line to take gold. The fact that the US men screwed up an exchange to give it away just made it sweeter. Then there was Britain's Kelly Holmes winning the 1500m, her second gold. All in all a great day for Great Britain.

One final note on the Olympics - I couldn't have been happier than when Morocco's Hachim El Guerrouj won the 5,000m gold medal to add to his 1500m. Watching a 1500m runner move up to take on a bunch of 10,000m runners was fascinating from a technical perspective. Watching him burn them in the last 200m after a relatively slow race was really quite cool. However, I'm not sure he realized his two fingered salute (hey, I've got two gold medals!) was the British equivalent of the American middle finger salute. Of course, if I was a Moroccan and I'd just won my second gold medal after a couple of disastrous Olympics in Atlanta and Sydney, I might just be inclined to give the world a big, "Up yours!" too. (Of course he wasn't, but those little unintentional cultural gaffes are always hilarious to see...)

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