I want my damn gold back.

Simon Whitfield, Explore, August 2008

My favourite story of these Olympics may appear, at first, to be three stories, but are, in fact, intertwined, referencing and turning back on themselves, as the best stories do.

When the Men’s Eight won their gold and stood atop the podium, they sang louder than I’ve heard anyone sing any anthem ever. Adam Kreek, the loudest, without a care for talent or tune. Simon Whitfield was watching, like the rest of Team Canada, at home and in China, and wrote himself a message on his handlebars for the triathlon the next day: “sing like Kreek.” Whitfield didn’t win gold, but he won silver, battling back again and again to stay in contention. Helping to ensure Whitfield’s chance to make that battle was his teammate, Colin Jenkins, swimming, biking, and running pace for Whitfield and crossing the finish line himself in 50th place—last place—but celebrating down the home stretch as if he had won the medal. Because he had.

Because that’s what the Olympics are about. Because that’s what Canada is about, too.