Why we love the Olympics

We’ve been watching.  The wins, the disappointments and the incredible stories of the 10,000 world class athletes competing in the ultimate multi-nation sporting event, that is, the Olympics.

Of course I’m proud of my team.  Team USA won 104 medals, 46 of which were gold.  Ahead of the number two nation China by 16 medals.  Ahead by three more medals than New Zealand’s entire tally of 13.  Mum’s quick to point out that 13 medals from a country of 4.4 million is, well, awesome.  New Zealand won a medal for every 341 thousand Kiwis, and they are, quite rightly, proud.

Ana’s first Olympics was filled with kick ass inspiration for the girls.  Not just the awesomeness of the US women’s gymnastics and soccer teams, 17 year old US swimmer Missy Franklin or kiwi shot putter Valerie Adams to name just a few.  But this year, the women representing USA outnumbered the men.  This year Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani and Sarah Attar were the first two Saudi women ever to represent their country at the games.  This year was the first Olympics ever where every single competing nation had at least one female athlete.

It’s almost incomprehensible to Ana and I born in Australia and the US respectively to imagine growing up in a country where women and girls are banned from participating in sport.  Tahmina Kohistani, Afganistan’s only female athlete understands.  Her fight to compete for her country wasn’t just about hard work out on the track.  (For a start, she didn’t have the kind of track facilities we have to train on)  and she certainly didn’t have much support in her country, from men or women alike.  Worse still, she had haters.  Haters for being a female running track!

It’s easy for us, caught in celebration, to forget how lucky we are.  Talent is evenly distributed, opportunity is not.

We can’t talk about inspiration at these games without giving a salute to the fastest man on no legs, Oscar Pistorius.  The first double amputee to participate in the Olympics.  His moto “You are not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have”.  Something I’m sure two time gold medalist South Korean archer Im Dong-hyun understands.  He’s legally blind.

We were touched by sprinter Lopez Lomong’s story, of kidnap to be a Sudanese child soldier, escaping to Kenya for his life.  Or Yamile Aldama, Team GB triple jumper who shortly after leaving her native Cuba to live with her husband in London found herself alone in a foreign country with immigration issues and a young baby whilst her husband was sent to jail on drug trafficking charges.  There are many other athletes who have overcome war and real threats to their lives and their countries and still, some how managed to compete at this level.

On a lighter note, we must mention Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi who was the fourth woman to compete whilst pregnant.  She was also the furthest into her pregnancy – at 34 weeks.  That’s inspirational!

Last but not least, we honour the parents.  The tough decisions they made for their aspiring athletes.  The financial support.  The laundry!  The sacrifices, so that their sons and daughters can go on to inspire all of us, from all nations.

Supporting my team and their fellow inspirational competitors.

By Rafa.

 

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8 Responses to “Why we love the Olympics”

  1. dad Says:

    Are eating contests an Olympic sport?

  2. Abuela Says:

    What an inspirational post! I have been reading Gladwell’s The Outliers, a book that maintains there are some luck factors beyond our control in achieving at a high level. But that achievement can only take place when people repeat and repeat and repeat the skill in which they hope to achieve success. Imagine all the repetition in each of the skills displayed at Olympic level. Imagine the mental discipline – overcoming failures on the way and cultivating the winning mindset. Inspirational.

  3. Abuela Says:

    National pride helps, too, doesn’t it Rafa?!

  4. Bree Says:

    Very informative and inspiring Rafa !

  5. Iggy Says:

    My running, shooting, jumping, throwing and swimming all failed to meet the minimum standard. I congratulate all those who made it to the Olympics and all those who supported them on the way.

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