‘BoniBlog – Mourning not the same as being down

Sports Media Canada’s John Iaboni is working out of the AIPS office to assist media at the Vancouver Games. His ‘BoniBlog has been appearing here daily during the epic event.

Sports Media Canada's john Iaboni

The media – and I’ve been as guilty of this as anyone over the years – often takes liberties with the word “mourning.”
What happened on Sunday at these Games offered a clear distinction between “mourning” and being “down.”
When I arrived at the Main Press Centre yesterday morning, I noticed a rather quiet group of Canadian Olympic Committee officials heading upstairs for their daily briefing. I thought it was in anticipation of facing questions on the status of the bold Own The Podium quest. Within minutes, I learned that the major reason for somber looks was that they were about to confirm to the world that, yes, Therese Rochette, the 55-year-old mother of Canadian figure skating champion Joannie Rochette, had died of a massive heart attack only hours after arriving in Vancouver on Saturday.
In a room full of emotion, people such as Roger Jackson fought hard to hold back tears as he recalled the sudden passing of his father as he prepared for the 1972 Games in Munich. During a chat with Canadian chef de mission Nathalie Lambert, she told me about losing her mother after she suffered a heart attack in her sleep. She reminded me of how Sylvie Frechette in 1992 lost her boyfriend Sylvain Lake after he committed suicide only a week before the Games at Barcelona – and how Frechette still competed to win Gold.
Frechette is part of the Canadian support team here and she was among the many who have been consoling Rochette since Sunday morning when the skater learned from her father, Normand, and her coach, Manon Perron, of the tragic loss.
With heavy heart, Rochette has taken to the ice fully intending to compete, starting with the short program tomorrow night. The competition is a way for her to honour her biggest supporter, her mother, and to get on with her life at the Olympics, a stage she’s worked so hard to reach.
So Sunday went from that shocking personal news for one Olympian to Team Canada’s 5-3 loss to the USA in men’s hockey. Now Canada needs to win four games to claim Gold and, as sixth seed after pool play, it’s now become a long shot for that. But it still is possible.
Leaving the arena yesterday, throughout the night and during my ride into the city today, the fans were upset and disappointed. They want local hero Roberto Luongo in the net; they want Canada to tighten up defensively; they want head coach Mike Babcock to shorten up the bench; they want the shooters to score more goals … they want to win.
To be clear, while one might be tempted to say Canadian men’s hockey fans across the nation are in “mourning” the more appropriate description is they’re “down” or “let down” at this stage. The biggest loss yesterday belonged to Rochette and her family.
I’ve never had the privilege of interviewing Joannie but our family can relate to how she must feel. My Dad passed away of a massive heart attack in 1993, leaving home for his daily walk and never returning. He was 68 … the shock of it all and never having had the opportunity to say goodbye stays with us to this day.
From that moment on I learned that there’s a vast difference between “mourning” and simply being “down.”