Junio should not be praised for giving spot to Morrison 0
Canada's Gilmore Junio (above), who gave his spot in the 1,000-metre long-track speed skating race to teammate Denny Morrison, did not act in the spirit of the Olympics, says Kurtis Larson. Morrison ended up winning the silver medal in Sochi. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)
This is the most politically incorrect thing you’ll read all day: Gilmore Junio lost.
One of four Canadian men competing in Wednesday’s 1,000-metre event, the 23-year-old long-track speed skater quit – disqualifying himself so Canada could win. So he would lose.
He quit so Denny Morrison, in what could be his last Olympics, could have another chance at a podium – the story of these Games.
But the story has only been written one way and the legitimacy of Morrison’s medal completely ignored.
The "story" – competitive spirit be damned – the majority’s only concern.
A fall at the Olympic trials should have kept Morrison out of the race.
Four Canadians – including Junio – were supposed to compete in Wednesday’s event.
During the single-round event, Canada’s Muncef Ouardi finished 32nd, William Dutton 26th and Vincent de Haitre 20th, close to two seconds off the pace.
They competed. Junio didn’t.
After reportedly being approached by Canadian coach Sean Ireland to forfeit his spot, the 41st-ranked Junio agreed to a self-imposed disqualification that quite frankly calls the entire competition into question.
The word “approached” has been repeatedly used to describe the manner in which Speed Skating Canada floated the idea to Junio.
Were jobs on the line? Was a silver medal more important than Junio representing his country, an honour he earned?
The compete level of an Olympian is supposed to transcend outside influence.
Competing, not quitting – or winning for that matter – is in the true spirit of the Games.
It’s in the Olympic Creed.
It’s more honourable than both winning and quitting – a statement critics will surely take issue with Thursday morning.
Deep down, most Olympians know they won’t medal. They just don’t believe it. They use it as inspiration after working endlessly for four years to achieve qualification – the kind of story many sports junkies salivate over.
Instead, the SSC will be making the media rounds Thursday represented by someone viewed as a false silver-medal winner, accompanied by an athlete who, while selfless, was bizarrely void of the fire that burns bright in the belly’s of those lucky enough to don Team Canada gear.
It’s a move that should be debated, not commended.
A move the Canadian Olympic Committee should do everything to avoid in the future.
A bizarre last-minute substitution the International Olympic Committee should look at snuffing out – for good – in 2018.
There’s already talk of Junio being the frontrunner to carry Canada’s flag at next weekend’s closing ceremony, an honour that should be reserved for Canadian Winter Olympic legends like two-time gold medallist Alex Bilodeau and short-track speed skater Charles Hamelin, a pair of athletes who best represent what this four-year cycle is all about.
Canadians who earned the opportunity through competition rather than looking the other way.
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