The jokes that Canadians don't tan but they bronze may stop. The nation now has a full set of hardware from London 2012 after its sublime Saturday, meaning it can skip past its shield of self-deprecation and start imagining how high it might soar, like the medal table were the trampoline on which Rosie MacLennan does her thing.
True, perhaps it's a sign of ingratitude to demand more greatness, but the day was a faith-restorer, well, at least for everyone but star-crossed Skyrider Karen Cockburn. MacLennan got the gold in trampoline, the oddball cousin of gymnastics. Ryan Cochrane pulled off Canada's first swimming silver of this century, while the Tara Whitten-Jasmine Glaesser-Gillian Carleton cycling trio earned bronze in the inaugural women's team pursuit.
[Slideshow: MacLennan's golden day]
From Ed Willes:
In the second half they have potential medals in women's wrestling, canoe/kayak, diving, cycling, mountain biking and athletics. The women's soccer and basketball teams are also in the thick of the medal fray. And, remarkably, all three Canadian boxers are still alive.
... here's one other thing to consider. In Beijing, Canada didn't win its first medal until Saturday, then ripped off 18 over the final seven days. That might be too much to ask for this time around, but let's get the calculator out one more time; yes, that would mean 25 medals, which would surpass expectations.
"We have a Canadian celebration in the athletes village every night," Toronto's MacLennan said on Saturday night, her gold medal hanging around her neck. "There's definitely a momentum there. You can feed off it. I saw the synchronized divers [Jennifer Abel and Emilie Heymans] medal and I said, 'I want one of those.' " (Postmedia News)
Before getting too far ahead, the troika of medal performances today need to be appreciated. With MacLennan, who nailed her final routine to dethrone China's He Wenna as Olympic champ, the big lesson is about going past what others say you can do; she pulled off a feat some suspected she had in her since she competed in Beijing as a teenager and, as Rosie DiManno remembers it, was " tossing up unprecedentedly tough tricks as an Olympics rookie, stuff never attempted in competition before by a female."
[Related: Canada's Olympic team carbon-neutral?]
Ryan Cochrane winning silver in the 1,500 freestyle reflected a Canadian trait to be tough in the face of a tough job. As Cam Cole put it, whereas other swim races are just about technique and shaving seconds, "The 1,500 is about work, and mileage, and the ability to suffer." With China's Sun Yang pulling away from the field like Secretariat in swim trunks, Cochrane reconciled himself to racing for silver and gave the country a thrill. He also affirmed that you race against yourself and the clock.
"I know this was second place, too, but I'm still progressing — to be faster than four years ago, without the [body] suits, I think is fantastic." (Vancouver Sun)
Thirdly, Carleton, Glaesser and Whitten were all about maintaining one's wits in a maelstrom. The velodrome in London, where Paul McCartney turned out to cheer Team GB on to yet another gold medal on Saturday, is louder than any place Paul's old band playing back in the day. In another time, that might have caused less prepared Canadian athletes to recoil, instead they channeled it, as Whitten noted: "It's just so loud, you can either let it distract you or feed off the energy. We knew that's the way it was going to be, we even knew it from the World Cup here, so we were prepared for the noise and did our own ride."
With a Saturday night to let those medals sink in, it's only natural to dwell on whether the country's athletes can hit those targets. It might be tough.
Prior to the Games, Canadian Press reporter extraordinaire Donna Spencer projected 22 medals. That prognostication included four medals in rowing and three in swimming; Canada won two of each. It also expected one in athletics from either heptathlete Jessica Zelinka (seventh) or shot putter Dylan Armstrong (fifth). MacLennan's gold was the only one from gymnastics, when the country might have needed two. A triathlon medal also seems like a lot to expect.
With Antoine Valois-Fortier's judo bronze, that's about a five-medal difference. But diving was expected to notch two medals and Abel could pick up Canada's third on the platform on Sunday. Women's soccer is one win from a medal, be it in the semifinal or bronze-medal match.
The great thing about the Olympics is it still has greater capacity to surprise than major team sports. And it's not always about the big picture, the grand scheme, but what it felt like in the moment. Canada had plenty of great moments on Saturday, enough to sustain the nation through the weekend.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.
- Sports & Recreation