By Morris Dalla Costa
The London Free Press
August 23, 2016
In an athletic cornucopia as full and varied as an Olympic Games very little is guaranteed.
When the competition is the best in the world, expectations sometimes are left unfulfilled.
But understanding that doesn’t make the end result any easier to take.
Londoner Miranda Ayim, a member of Canada’s women’s national basketball team, has had a few days to digest her team’s participation in the Rio Summer Games. It was the forward’s second chance at a medal. Her first was in London in 2012.
A few feet from Ayim at London’s International Airport are two other Londoners, Canada soccer team members Jessie Fleming and Shelina Zadorsky. Hanging from their necks is an Olympic bronze medal.
Ayim doesn’t have a medal hanging on her chest. Her team fell short.
But as disappointed as Ayim is, she’s one of those athletes who is able to put things in perspective.
At 28 she’s still got plenty of basketball left and maybe another Olympic Games, too. The women’s basketball program continues to improve and going into these Games experts believed they had a shot at a medal.
“Of course you are disappointed. We were going in there expecting a medal,” she said. “But you come out there and you’re still among the top eight teams in the world. It’s not bad. Obviously, we’re going to adjust our sights for the next Olympics.”
The national team started strongly, winning its first three games. They should probably have won their quarterfinal game against France when they got out to a big lead. Instead, they lost by five, spoiling their chance at a place in the semifinals.
It was an especially tough loss for Ayim since she plays basketball professionally in France, so she was familiar with most of the players.
Despite the loss, Ayim was able to appreciate the experience of being an Olympian for the second time.
“Every tournament has a different feel to it,” Ayim said. “I was very satisfied with the way they put it on; the venues, how it was organized and the competition were all good. I felt we came in with an even better team than we had in the 2012 Olympics. The program has really grown over the last few years and people can see it. There’s also been a lot more attention on the program which is good. I think it’s going to grow exponentially over the next few years.
“I thought it was a good tournament, not the end result we wanted but the support we got from back home, the outpouring of love we got on social media and all those outlets, was amazing.”
After the grind of the Olympics, Ayim heads back to the grind of professional basketball.
“I have a week and a half off which is long for me,” Ayim said.
She gets back to France on September 4 to begin a season that’s eight months long. That’s the grind.