THE Olympic Winter Games may be receding into history. But the post-contest perspective of skater Peter Carruthers should be clearly remembered. ''Too much emphasis is put on medals,'' he said quietly but pointedly. ''Everybody that's here'' is first-rate.''
So they were. And so will be entrants at future Olympics, starting with the summer Olympics this August.
Each entrant from almost every nation must undergo years of instruction and rigorous training: Extraordinary discipline is essential. Every country selects only its very best athletes; and by being chosen, athletes have demonstrated exceptional achievement.
Then comes the quadrennial competition of the Olympics themselves. In each category only three entrants take home medals.
But it does not matter whether the rest also gave dazzling performances or had off days. They take home something, too - the knowledge that they did the best they could on their day of competition. As the Mahre brothers pointed out, each entrant's real competition is within himself or herself. Medals are secondary.
At the Olympics there were no losers - only winners.