In Calgary right now, there is a consideration for a 2026 Olympic bid. Hearing this gives me goosebumps. While my athletic career may not include that specific event, I feel it is important to address the reason why this is so incredibly important to this city and athletes in Canada.
I've had many tell me that Calgary "just can't fund" things like a new field house for athletes to train inside year round or shouldn't bid for an Olympics because they don't want to see money put to new sport infrastructure in Calgary.
I'm here to tell you what this means from an athletes perspective and why I am so passionate about this.
As far as I can remember, I watched the Olympics, amazed at athletes of all kinds lay their performances out on the line in front of the entire world. Sometimes they won, sometimes they just couldn't capture the moment, but the emotions were laid out for the entire world to see.
At first, my love was figure skating. I watched it every chance I could get on TV, but that grew into watching CBC sports with things like Alpine Skiing, and eventually bobsleigh and skeleton. I remember in 2002, we watched the hockey finals live in class and watched Canada win a gold medal. 2006, I remember watching Duff Gibson and Jeff Pain top the podium and sing Oh Canada in Skeleton. Vancouver 2010, I was obsessed. I PVR'ed every event while I went to school and often overfilled the PVR (oops!). Memorable moments when I felt the intense National pride of being Canadian include Alex Bilodeau winning the first gold on home soil, Joannie Rochette competing just days after her Mother's death, and last but not least, Sidney Crosby with the Golden goal over USA.
These Olympics at home opened my eyes to sports I never even knew existed, and probably planted a seed about a new sport career post figure skating.
Being an athlete in the development system now, grinding it out day in and day out, with nobody watching my blood sweat and tears, I'm dreaming of the day of reaching a moment like this. Will it happen? Who knows. Only time can tell.
Day in and day out, I get bombarded by tweets, news stories and articles on the internet telling me that the field house I so desperately need, or the home Olympics all of Calgary's athletes are dreaming of, simply are not important at all. In fact, they are corrupt, a waste of money and people simply can't be bothered.
I try not to get too emotionally involved with the news and these comments, as they often hit too close to home and cause me to become irrationally angry. I wish I could reply and look these people in the eyes as they tell me that my facilities are not important. I wish these people could have an inside look on what it looks like to work full time (or finish a degree!), and still have to give your best at training because you are expected to be better. Not only for yourself, but for your organization, for Canada.
Am I selfish? Does Calgary have better stuff to spend money on? I'm not the one to ask, but I refuse to think that I am the only one who thinks that these are important issues.
If this is the case, I am the only one who thinks this, I ask the public to stop turning on the Olympics and major amateur sporting events and placing their hopes and dreams on an athlete they just met on TV. The athlete who either climbs to glory and performs to win a medal - which then people claim to have supported and developed this athlete, call them a Canadian treasure and tweet about how they are "so proud to be canadian because of *insert name* here." If they fail, these same people are so quick to judge, because you know, performing at the olympics is really easy.
I also beg these people to think of the public's health, the benefits of having these athletes from your own backyard, inspiring the next generation to pursue sport and recreation! I beg you to think of new public facilities that anyone can access, and maybe even train alongside future Olympians, or just a weekend warrior - both who inspire everyone in different ways.
If you are one that is a true believer in the purpose of sport, and can understand why I am so passionate about this, I ask you to step up and say that you support athletes and have your opinion heard on why we need updated facilities and things like a fieldhouse.
The fact of the matter is that most athletes live under the poverty line. Some are lucky enough to get sponsorships and carding, but regardless have to make extreme sacrifices and work their butt off to reach their dream - whether it include the Olympics or not.
It is not a large coincidence that athletes are continually flocking to Calgary to train, but if we don't continually invest in these facilities, bigger and better ones will be built and these athletes will leave Calgary, and we will no longer be the sport hub we used to be. Which is why I think that the 2026 olympics would be a great reason to build some infrastructure for sport, and allow a whole new generation of people to be inspired.
That is my Unpopular opinion, but I'm sure sticking to it.