So the Games of the XXXI Olympiad have come and gone, my circadian rhythm is still out of whack and I’m suffering TV advertisement withdrawal. Was it only me or did anyone else feel they watched 2 weeks of TV ads with some sport thrown in?
Everyone is an expert when it comes to the Olympic Games and if you had the ability to voice an opinion on the Australian team performance in Rio you probably did. The progressive shift in the mood of the mainstream media from week one to two was intriguing yet so very predictable. It seems our athletes went from heroes to zeros in a quick blink of the eye based on the opinion of these 'expert' journalists who we are reliably told reflect the mood of the mob.
It’s very true the older I get the more of a legend I was; but I can to a certain extent reflect on what it takes to compete at an elite level. Not the lofty heights of our Olympians but as a national level swimmer I competed at the trials for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. History and my log-book will show I didn’t make it. Very simply there were others better than me and more deserving; but it didn't mean I didn't give it a red hot crack.
And that's the point.
When the broadcaster pushes a microphone into your face and asks you how you feel after an event that may not have had the result you've spent 4 possibly 8 years training and sacrificing nearly everything else in your life, how do you think you'd feel? Put aside the fact you've just given your all, your body is screaming for oxygen, lactic acid is searing through every muscle in your body and you are on the verge of vomiting on the journalist’s shoes. And you really don’t have to be reminded that it wasn’t necessarily the result you were hoping for. You probably have noticed this already.
There's also a false assumption by our media that Australia is more committed to winning medals at the Olympics than any other nation. That is just so very wrong at so many levels. Our media also seem to overlook the fact there are other humans training and competing in other national programs elsewhere with the same ambitions as our athletes. These athletes also want to be world's best and are supported by programs regarded as equal and in many cases, superior to our high performance programs. With a population of 23 million the maths often works against us on the world stage of sport.
Some media hacks have been almost apoplectic about the Australian Sports Commission spending $376.7million on Australia's Olympic athletes and teams the past 4 years, questioning whether this is taxpayer money well spent. More than ever before our athletes appeared before the camera apologising to the Australian public for their failure. No one asked me whether $376.7million should be spent on our high performance athletes but then again no one asked me whether $50 billion should be spent on 12 new submarines to be built at Adelaide's Osborne shipyards. And I don't expect an athlete to ever apologise if they've given 100%.
So I say well done to everyone and anyone associated with our Olympic team and in particular our athletes. My dad used to say if you did everything you could do and gave it your absolute best, that’s all we can ever expect.
Let's hope that the media have learned some lessons before the Paralympics this month.
And Kitty Chiller, if you’re ever looking for a job please call me.
RM - Sportspeople
First Published 2016