I’m outraged I tell you! Outraged by the performance of Australians at the Olympics!
And lest you think poorly of me, let me hasten to add that I am speaking not of the fine athletes who have sporting the “Green and Gold” in London, but rather the efforts of the media, the sports commentariat, and that portion of the Australian general public who have been poorly served and badly influenced by them both.
Their behaviour in suggesting that athletes who have won a silver medal rather than the ‘expected’ gold have failed, or suggesting that athletes who didn’t perform to the media’s expectations have ‘failed’, or that athletes have ‘let Australia down’ by not winning enough medals seem ludicrous in the extreme! These comments are directed at elite athletes who have trained for years (if not decades) and who have performing at such a level as to be qualified to attend and compete in the Olympics (yes, you have to be a certain standard to even get through the front door!). To dismiss their efforts in reaching the Olympic competition because, on the day, an athlete from another country performed better is simply…well…unAustralian!
So for the record, and in light of my previous post on the subject, let me make the following observations:
- As I have already mentioned, not every athlete from around the world is able to compete in the Olympic Games. In order to be eligible they need to firstly meet a certain level of performance, as set by the respective International Federation, and the secondly, be nominated by their National Olympic Committee. That our Australian athletes are actually competing in London is the first example that they are elite athletes, and worthy of our respect for the efforts and our support during the competition – regardless of their results!
- Winning a silver medal is an achievement, as is winning a bronze medal. They signify that the winner of that medal was, in this particularly competition, the second or third best athlete. It is not a failure. It is a success, but success over and above their first having qualified to compete.
- The invention of the ‘medal tally’ doesn’t help the situation at all. It is irrelevant where we finish on that false indicator of ‘success’, and Australia is, in my opinion, languishing at whatever number we happen to be at. Perhaps the media and general public should be celebrating the achievements of our athletes – competing, making finals, winning silver and bronze, etc – rather than lamenting that we haven’t won enough gold medals.
- Many of the people who are lamenting our ‘poor’ performance couldn’t even get close to the efforts of our Australian athletes. Like many Monday-morning quarterbacks they sit back and pontificate without knowing the reality and hard work that our elite athletes face in order to earn the title “Olympian”.
- Apparently, the 2012 Australian Olympic Team had ‘targets’ for the number of medals it would win in total, and more specifically, the number of gold medals they ‘should’ win. As if the athletes don’t have enough self-imposed pressure to perform to the very best of their ability, there’s nothing like some bureaucrats imposing some artificial ‘targets’ that would be the measure of whether the team was ‘successful’ or not. I wonder if those ‘targets’ took into consideration the breadths of athletic talents that might exist in countries other than Australia.
- For the media – and the general public – to believe that these athletes who wear the “Green and Gold” are some how competing for the nation, and their success or otherwise reflects on the nation is pure nonsense! They don’t! It’s as simple as that. They are competing not for ‘us’ but for themselves because of the internal drive they have, and the dedicated training they have put in over many years (if not decades). Get over it Australia! When one of athletes ‘fails’ to medal they haven’t let ‘us’ down…and if they have performed to the very best of their ability on that given day, they are already champions!
- Australia isn’t the only nation in the world that might actually send athletes to the Olympic Games, and – I hope you’re sitting down Australia – some of those athletes might actually be better than ours! We don’t ‘own’ any particular medal, our athletes compete against other athletes from around the world. On any particular day of competition in the Olympic Games, anything could happen…including Australia coming second, or third…or somewhere else. Accept it!
Normally at this stage I’d climb down off my soap-box and resume my normal breathing, but that was before I found our that John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee chimed in with this contribution:
My question is: why is that when something doesn’t turn out as expected, or there is a rash of some type of activities that ‘society’ thinks unsavoury, the pressure is always placed on schools to fix it?
How much more does Coates want to cram into an already overcrowded school syllabus, and, more significantly, what is he prepared to see left out of the curriculum in order to accommodate his fixation of elite sports and achieving a higher ‘ranking’ on the medal tally.
If there’s a problem – and that remains to be demonstrated – how about picking on someone other than our overworked and underpaid school teachers!
And now…pass the oxygen bottle someone…please…