Posted by: ownthepodium | March 16, 2010


Last evening, I stood in a light rain with hundreds of others watching the medal ceremonies at the Victory Plaza in Whistler. I witnessed ‘True Sport ‘ – the pure joy of  competing for he right reasons, ethically, with courage,  with modesty, and achieving ones goals after very hard effort.

Whereas I was terribly proud of the Canadians on the podium to receive their medals, and I lustily sang O Canada, I was moved most by the gold medal presentation to German cross-country skier and Paralympic Champion Verena Bentele. This was her second gold medal. She was overwhelmed with pure joy and emotion. This achievement meant so much to her.

She is a 28 year old student from Munich, and very significantly visually impaired. She skies following a male guide, Thomas Friedrich, who constantly looks back throughout the race encouraging her, and telling her of changes in the terraine. He also receives a medal, and last night he gently, and proudly, guided her to the podium. They received their medals, heard their national anthem played, and he then guided her to the photo station, helping her to hold her medal so the media could see it properly.

What absolute joy she had on her face throughout this series of events. I am sure she could not clearly see, but could certainly hear, the enormous congratulations from the crowd. Her emotion and quiet pride in her achievement were so refreshing to me, an Olympic Champion. She was so extremely happy and quietly proud of what she had done, demonstrating values which we as Canadians cherish.

We are so very proud of you Verena, and of all Paralympians. True Sport, indeed.


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