Tag Archives: Japan

Weekly Update #33: On Tokyo winning the 2020 Summer Olympics…

You may have heard this weekend that Tokyo has been awarded the 2020 Summer Olympics. If you haven’t well, now you have. Like many others , I read the stories on news sites, saw peoples reactions on Twitter and Facebook and even watched a couple videos of the reactions of some Japanese who were up at 5 am to watch the announcement that was taking place in Buenos Aires.

As I watched the members of the Tokyo bid committee and ordinary Japanese celebrate their successful bid I couldn’t help but feel good. I always get the shivers whenever I see large outpourings of jovial national pride, regardless of whether its my nation or someone else’s.

Inevitably, I made my way down to the comments sections on one of the news articles and, again inevitably, I found comments supporting and congratulating Japan mixed in with a healthy dose of “the Olympics cost too much and nobody cares, or benefits and the money should be spent elsewhere” comments.

The truth is, the Olympics do cost a lot of money. Sometimes, its money well spent and well managed and a host city can have a hugely successful games (Los Angeles ’84, Calgary ’88 and Vancouver 2010 come to mind). Sometimes its not (Montreal ’72, Athens ’04 and I’m sure others). But one thing that people don’t always think of is the emotion that the Olympics, not just the two weeks of Games, but the lead up that starts with the announcement, can bring to a country.

I remember in 2003 when the International Olympic Committee was about to announce who would host the 2010 Winter Olympics. At that time, I had just finished grade 10 and was attending a summer training camp for young skaters at the Olympic Oval in Calgary. There is always a buzz for all things Olympic around the Oval, and every T.V in the place was turned on to CBC to watch the announcement. When Jacques Rogge opened the envelope and announced that Vancouver would be host, the room went crazy. G.M Place in Vancouver went crazy. I think a lot of Canada went crazy.

In that moment, I remember feeling so much excitement. I added up the years and knew that 7 years from that announcement I would be 23, a prime age for Olympic competition. I vowed to myself that I would make it to those Games. It would be an amazing moment, an Olympic Games in my own country! Right after the announcement, I had to head to my next session, and I remember doing it with a little bit of extra energy, knowing that I had seven years to get to my best and not a second to waste.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I didn’t make it to those Games. I just missed out. But thats not the point of this post. The point is that while the Olympics come with a hefty price tag, I’m guessing that if the excitement they generate are enough to make this 16 year old kid dedicate himself to seven years of sport and healthy living then there were numerous others all across our country (and maybe even the world) that did or wanted to do the same. And if a bunch of kids can be inspired to do that from one announcement, then imagine what an entire 2 weeks of games can do!

So congratulations Tokyo, and all of Japan. You may have just committed yourself to spending a big wack of cash, but I’m sure there is already a generation who are inspired to take up the Olympic spirit and carry it with them for the rest of their lives. Call me corny, but to me, thats the most important reason why hosting the Olympics is worth it.

If you’re interested, here is the video of the Vancouver 2010 announcement.

 

Weekly Report 18 – World Cup 3 Japan Re-cap.

You’ll have to excuse my lateness in getting this blog out. WordPress seems to be a bit of an unfriendly site in China so I’ve had to wait until my arrival back in Canada to get an update on World Cup 3 out.

The cole’s notes on World Cup 3 are:

1000m: Penalty for impeding in the semi final for 8th place

1500m: 5th place in the A final.

Relay: We won the B final for 5th place after a disappointing semi final showing.

Longer Version

After a long travel day to Nagoya, we settled into our hotel in Japan. Liam and I drew the short stick and ended up with what was probably the smallest room in the hotel. After some quick remodeling, we got settled in without having to sleep on top of our suitcases. Not bad to get a little lesson in space management. It seems to be one of the best skills of the Japanese. There is no wasted space anywhere in the layout of the city. Every inch of building space is put to its maximum use.

Practice during the week leading into the competition was a little bit weird. Normally, the first couple of days on ice, I feel a little bit out of sorts and only get back to feeling like myself on ice after a couple of ice sessions. This time though, my first couple days after arrival were probably my most comfortable on the ice. As the week wore on, I actually became less comfortable. I don’t really have an answer as to why. We did have the last practice session of the day on both the Wednesday and Thursday though, which essentially equated to skating at 5am at home, which may have had something to do with it.

Either way, everybody skates on the same ice during the competition and my Friday qualification rounds went off fairly uneventfully. I had set a goal for myself of trying a few different strategies out and it seemed to work fairly well. Often, it’s a bit nerve racking to move away from racing strategies that you are comfortable with, but it is important to be confident and comfortable in any scenario since short track is such an unpredictable sport.

Saturday’s World Cup rounds in the final brought a bit of disappointment though. Coming up against Noh Jinkyu and Kwak Yoon-Gy, I knew I would have to sharp. I have beaten both of the them at different times this season, but this time, I ended up getting a bit aggressive trying to pass up on Kwak with one lap to go and was penalized, ending my day. I did finish up with our relay semi, in which we had one of our worst outings in a while exchange wise and were eliminated. Overall, pretty bad day.

Sunday I had to redeem myself. I qualified for the final of the 1500m with a last lap double inside pass after putting myself into some trouble earlier on in the race. Although you never want to be passing up right at the end, it was a good move for me and I was happy to be in the final. The final didn’t go as planned though and I got caught dumping speed on a botched inside pass and had to settle for 5th. My goal in each distance I skate is to be on the podium and I didn’t achieve this. Nevertheless, I still felt that my level of skating was at a good level as I left the rink on Sunday.

As always, being in Japan was a pleasure. It never ceases to amaze me how a country that is as densly populated as Japan can be so clean, neat and civilized. I suppose this is one of the reasons that Japan works so well as a society, but it truly is amazing. The people are unbelievably polite, welcoming and helpful to us visitors who can’t speak more than two words of Japanese. Hopefully I can go back soon!

Here are a couple pics from Nagoya. I only took my camera with me on a little run /visit to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of History and Technology. It was a cool museum to visit. They had full size working models of automated assembly lines as well a history of the Toyota company. I’ll bet you didn’t know they started out as designing and making textile machines before they did cars!

Working assembly line

Working assembly line

The shell of the first Toyota automobile

The shell of the first Toyota automobile

One of the Toyota designed textile machines

One of the Toyota designed textile machines

Trumpet playing robot welcomes me to the museum

Trumpet playing robot welcomes me to the museum

My mustache and I on its last day

My mustache and I on its last day