I’m sitting here watching two rowers cry. They’ve worked as hard as they can. They are hardly able to speak, but the few words they are managing to get out are apologies. I couldn’t work out everything they said but it was something along the lines of, ‘we really tried… we just couldn’t… we’re so sorry… we wanted to do it for everyone… I’m sorry… I can’t….’
I’m looking at these two men and suddenly the ‘spirit of the Olympics’ is lost on me. These guys didn’t do anything wrong. They didn’t cheat, come last, fall out of the boat, forget to bow before their monarch. They came 2nd! Not in the heats. In the final. They won Olympic Silver and could barely speak with the exhaustion and upset.
Now I am NOT criticising these guys. Well… maybe I am a tiny bit. But I want someone to explain to me why getting silver isn’t FANTASTIC. What is the point of 3 medals if only 1 is worth winning? And why do these guys feel they have let their supporters down?
I watched all the Olympians stride in to that arena with pride at the opening ceremony. It was enough for them just to be there, just to have made it that far! Well it looked like it was. But time after time I’m seeing athletes crying and saying how sorry they are to the fans for not getting a medal, or for getting a medal but not getting a gold one!
Are we not proud enough of them? Are we expecting too much of them? Or not enough?
The motto of the Olympics this year is “Inspire a Generation!” and the definition of Olympism – which is at the head of the Olympic Charter, is “A philosophy of life, which places sport at the service of humankind.” It’s starting to feel as if some of that is being forgotten.
Did you see Bert Le Clos gush over his son’s gold medal! It was amazing. And it’s ok for the elation to be a tad less for silver and even and little bit less than that for bronze. For those who’ve worked hard for the last 4/6/8/10 years and have missed out on a medal, it must be really tough.
But they shouldn’t apologise and they shouldn’t feel they have to.
I’m not saying we should all sing The Fields of Athenry for an hour, even if our own Katie Taylor doesn’t get anywhere. But she and the rest of the Olympians should know that they’ve already made us proud!