His website is simply titled “Long Track Long Shot“. Kevin Jagger of Calgary isn’t your traditional Canadian Olympian of Olympics past. The former McGill Redmen football player, investment banking analyst and 2014 Olympic speed skating hopeful is part of a new wave of Canadians inspired to compete and create their own Olympic moments.
Up until the 2010 games in Vancouver, the Olympics were a source of pride and pain for Canadians from coast-to-coast. Every Summer or Winter games, we would be treated to stories from commentators of how this medal-winning athlete toiled away their days between training and a part-time job, on the verge of or below the poverty line. This was done all in pursuit of a round object affixed with a certain colour and up until now, almost anonymous status.
In the first decade of this century, assistance for Canadian Olympics athletes had just begun to be seriously examined. The mentality for the first decade in Canadian Olympic sport seemed to centre on the notion of “what have you done for me lately?”
Some programs, like Canada’s freestyle skiing and rowing programs, benefitted greatly from this type of thinking. With too many Olympic, World Championship and World Cup medals to count, these programs were successfully able to build for the future. These were and continue to be the flagship programs for Canada at the Olympics today.
The Vancouver games changed all that just three years ago. With a nation behind him, sometimes auctioneer, sometimes world-class athlete Jon Montgomery slid his way to a gold medal in skeleton. He followed this up by winning the gold medal for most Canadian celebration ever (drinking a pitcher of beer).
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The increase in funding to Canadian athletes showed this nation that funding athletes and putting money into amateur sport wasn’t a bad idea and that some good could come from it. It also showed us that when working as a team, Canada is one of the top Olympic programs in the world.
There are already notable success stories to working collectively to support Olympic hopefuls. The town of Port Alberni, B.C. put their unwavering support behind local firefighter, wrestler and 2008 Olympian Travis Cross.
There is also the story of Montgomery and his wife Darla who are “doublin’ down” ahead of 2014. Mission Montgomery Two, a project initiated by Montgomery’s hometown of Russel, Manitoba, is helping to ensure that the Olympic dream is that much clearer for a defending Gold medalist and his wife Darla, a strong Olympic hopeful.
What these two stories share in common is that the battle just to get to the Olympics for Canadians is no longer one they must go through alone.
Thanks to Vancouver the Olympic dream is that much clearer and within reach for ordinary Canadians.
The physical requirement is still obviously necessary and critical to any success. However, for aspiring Olympians like Jagger, the track may still be long but the shot isn’t as long as it once used to be.