olympic glory?

Thursday, 2 August 2012


I'm feeling dejected this morning.

On the morning of 28 July, when our Australian athletes marched in the Opening Ceremony, I had an overwhelming feeling this would not be our Games. It wasn't about being negative - it was just a sense that perhaps we were in for a bye.

And it seems my gut instinct is panning out - we're certainly not following our usual gold medal trajectory.

But this is not the reason I'm feeling dejected. It's not even the negative slant our media is taking on all our almost-golds. It's the athletes themselves.

I've been absolutely horrified by the reaction of some - particularly the swimmers. Crying? Moaning? Stony silence? What the? The wails: "I've let people down!" "I've disappointed my family." GIVE ME A BREAK. Silver - or last place, for that matter, does NOT a loser make, most especially when you are an Olympian and even most especially when you lose by .01 of a second.

This kind of reaction is so indicative of Gen-Y kids, who have been raised on dichotomous diet of:

"You're special! Everyone wins a prize! You're all winners!"

and

"Winning is everything! Second place is for losers!"

Groan. No wonder they're confused and unable to cope with a nanosecond loss and the repugnant glint of silver.

I must admit, their dummy-spitting is really affecting me. It's making me want to spit the dummy, too. And I'm sure it's affecting the team's psyche. Never has the old "do your best" notion seemed more appropriate. These athletes are remarkable people and I have no doubt their 'losses' are absolutely crushing. It's not that I don't have empathy or feel their pain as a gold medal slips through their fingers. I know they have worked years towards this BUT - we can't all take home a gold medal. Fact.

So . . . Get Over It.

We are monumentally proud of you, our Aussie Olympic Team. You are genius genius genius. It sounds banal but second, third, even last place at these Games is an incredible feat. Stand strong and proud in your achievements and give us that stunning Aussie smile and fist-pump, even if you're third on the podium. We want to feel your excitement and pride, not your widdle baby spit.

I want to feel that great Aussie champion spirit for the rest of these Games. I want it back. For goodness sake, what we have achieved in our Olympic sporting history is mind-blowing. We were there from the start. In 1896, the birth of the modern Olympics in Athens, we, along with just ten other teams, were there. We came eighth.

In 1900, there were 21 teams and we came ninth.

In 1932, we made 10th place again and in 1948, we nudged the 10 top ten countries, coming in at number 11.

In 1952, we were eighth.

It was 1956, when Australia hosted its first summer Games in Melbourne, we came in at an astonishing third, winning 13 gold behind the US and the USSR.

In 1960, we came fifth.

In 1964, we came eighth - and ninth in 1968.

In 1972, we came sixth.

Then we suffered a lull until 1992, when we hit tenth place again.

1996 - seventh.

2000's Sydney Games - fourth, with a stunning medal haul - 16 - behind the world's greats, the USA, China and the Russian Federation.

In 2004, our winning streak continued in Athens, with 17 medals and another fourth place, behind the three big guns.

Astonishing.

In Beijing in 2008, we dropped back to a not-so-shabby sixth.

Will we make the top ten in 2012? Maybe we won't and that's okay. Maybe we need a bye. Maybe we need a little rest before we come back fighting. For a country of 22 million people (around about the population of Greater Shanghai), our Olympic history is a formidable one, and arguably, per capita, the most astonishing Games track record ever.

I am one VERY proud Australian, even as we teeter on a Not So Good Games. I am bursting with pride for our phenomenal athletes and I will be cheering every single win - but I'll also be cheering the almost win.

Athletes - won't you join me?

the silver Aussie grin - that's more like it!

1 comment:

Posie Patchwork said...

Oh i hear you. Our 7 Gold Medals cost over $70M. I prefer to focus on the likes of Sally Pearson, who totally backed up her hype, so dignified & "i did it for myself." Awesome. Oh, Stephanie Rice, crying, SO ANNOYING. I must say i am glad James Magnussen was quiet after he was unsuccessful in the relay, so he couldn't whinge & confirm his feelings. Love Posie

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