China and the United States are running away at the top of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games medal standings.
Canada trails the giants, whose population pools to draw from dwarf our mere 37-plus million (more than 328 million in the US; nearly 1.4 billion in China), but the medals won by Canadians mean more in a way, because we can remember them all.
How do you keep track, in China’s case, of more than 30 gold medalists? In the moment, success conjures up a state of national pride for the individuals or teams. Soon enough they are lumped in with the other winners in the overall medal tally. Only the highest profile athletes/sports will garner attention when all is said and done and the torch is doused, not to mention in years to come.
Canadians who are following the Olympics know who has struck gold for Canada, and the performances won’t be easily forgotten. Margaret McNeil (swimming), Maude Charron (weightlifting), Andre De Grasse and Damian Warner (track and field), and the women’s eight rowing team (so far) have captured the imaginations of those watching, whether hardcore sports enthusiasts or those who follow certain sports every four (or five) years during the Olympics.
Five gold medals are far fewer than the top nations have accumulated, but for Canadians, it’s not the total number that’s precious, it’s the moments of golden glory we can remember forever. If we had 30 or more, how could we store all that in the memory bank? The same analogy works for silver and bronze winners.
At press time, which was prior to Canada taking the field against Sweden in the women’s gold medal soccer match, Canada had five gold medals. We can make room for one more.