Stuff Still Happens, week 33: Evan Dunfee, Olympic hero

Well, that was fun.

The Rio Olympics are over (or close to it, depending on when you read this), and for Canada, they’ve been a smashing success. In the pool, a teenager named Penny Olesiak came out of nowhere (or Ontario) to win four medals and the hearts of a country (I know, I know… too corny). Canada won gold medals from Derek Drouin in high jump, Rosie MacLennan in trampoline, Erica Wiebe in wrestling (her reaction was so joyous, you couldn’t help but smile along with her), and Olesiak. And then, of, course, there was runner Andre De Grasse. Short and almost skinny compared to his tall, jacked competitors, the 21-year-old won three track medals, going toe-to-toe (figuratively, anyway) with the great Usain Bolt. Better yet, he seems to be a nice guy. The soccer women won a bronze, beating Brazil in Brazil, no mean feat. The men’s volleyball team (who knew volleyball would be so much fun to watch?) didn’t win anything, but they hung in there against more highly ranked competitors. The US was DQ’d in the relay, and the US women’s soccer team went out on a Solo note. All in all, a pretty good two weeks for our side.

Great stories, all. But one of my favourite stories to come out of the games concerns race walker Evan Dunfee. With only one kilometre to go in a 50 kilometre race (50 freaking k!), Dunfee was jostled by Japanese runner Hirooki Arai. Race walking is all about stride, and the slight bump clearly put Dunfee off his routine. He completely lost his step, and staggered to the finish line like a Whyte Avenue drunk. Arai won the bronze, but upon review, authorities took it away and gave it to Dunfee. But, the Japanese filed their own protest to a higher authority, and they took the bronze from Dunfee and gave it back to Arai. So, is Dunfee bitter? Angry that he was jostled, lost this step, lost the bronze, won the bronze, then lost the bronze? Amazingly, no. He, too, could have appealed, but didn’t. He saw the replay, and decided that, although they got tangled up, “I let it put me off mentally”, he said. “I will sleep soundly tonight and for the rest of my life, knowing I made the right decision. I will never allow myself to be defined by the accolades I receive, rather than the integrity I carry through life.”

So no medal for Dunfee, but he’s a hero nonetheless.

So long, Shad, whoever you were

The big news (big being relative) in the Canadian media universe was the axing of somebody named Shad from CBC Radio’s music, arts and culture show called q. Yes, it’s lower case q; it was Q when it was hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, so apparently with the departure of Jian the show was considered a lesser production, hence the lower case. And it was a lower case production; say what you like about bad boy Jian, he was a pretty good broadcaster. The new host, Shad, was a dismal flop, and the show’s ratings have tanked. On Monday, the CBC announced a new host for q, Tom Power (but no word if it was going to be upper case again). Naturally, when word came down that Shad (who is black) was being replaced by Power (who is white), there was some outcry on social media. The easily scandalized denizens of the internet questioned CBC’s commitment to diversity, resulting in his response from CBC Radio boss Susan Marjetti: “When I joined CBC Toronto in 2001, there was no racial diversity in the host ranks, and when I left, eight of 10 hosts considered themselves to be diverse …” OK, can anyone explain what “consider themselves to be diverse” means? Is that an actual question they asked of staff? And what is the definition of diverse? And better yet, who says stuff like that? Only at the CBC.

Speaking of Canadian cultural moments …

The media, and apparently much of the country, went nuts over the final performance of The Tragically Hip. The CBC gave it live, coast to coast coverage, social media was awash with gushing praise, and the newspapers covered it like a Beatles reunion if John and George rose from their graves for the occasion. It was all a little much. I watched some of the concert, and I know this is a minority opinion, but I couldn’t listen to more than 10 minutes of Gord Downie’s growling, gutteral screaming. In recorded form, Gord was interesting, but an acquired taste. Live, well, I couldn’t take more than a few minutes. But for everyone else, I hope you enjoyed it.


Jack Riley, 80. Remember The Bob Newhart Show, where Bob was a psychologist? He had a very angry, bitter patient named Mr. Carlin. That was Jack Riley … Arthur Hiller, 92, Edmonton-born Hollywood director of such films as Love Story … Mauril Belanger, 61, the Liberal MP who convinced parliament to change the words to O Canada to make it gender neutral … John MacLaughlin, 89, longtime, very loud host of the PBS news panel show The MacLaughlin Group … Dick Assman, 82, a Saskatchewan gas station owner who had a moment of fame in 1995 when his unusual name came to the attention of David Letterman, who briefly made him a celebrity.


By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

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