It was evident in the reverence shown by some of the other medalists present in the CTV studio Sunday afternoon, as they spoke of how the 24-year-old figure skater was able to win a bronze medal in the days after her mother, Thérèse Rochette, died of a heart attack.
One could get the sense they all were in awe, wondering if they would be able to bear up as well under the same straits. Olympic athletes lean on their families for an awful lot, perhaps more so than most young adults, so the impact was undeniable.
It was never about the medal; as you've heard a hundred times, it was about finishing the competition standing. And yet hers may well be the most celebrated bronze medal in the country's Olympic history, with all due respect to Silken Laumann (who overcame a devastating injury to win a sculling bronze in the 1992 Barcelona Games).
Some will say, well, there was a symbolic value to Alexandre Bilodeau being the first Canadian gold medalist of the Games. Charles Hamelin was the only double-gold winner. For sheer dominance, there was curling skip Kevin Martin.
But selecting Rochette sends a perfect message. The country has been unfairly maligned for having a win-at-all-costs approach, and at times we have veered close to being ugly Canadians (cheering misses in curling). Sunday night, through Joannie Rochette, Canada gets to show it is never just about the color of the medal. Rochette has become a national treasure.
- Joannie Rochette