Rant Alert: In 1987 Rick McKinney (US Archery champion) sat with a group of us over lunch at the NZ national archery championships. I asked him what it took to become an Olympian. He said, “It’s lonely. You have to give up everything that’s not your sport – social, eating what you want, nights out with your mates and sleep-ins on cold mornings. And there are no guarantees you will achieve your dream. But you will do something you can be proud of – your very best!”
So here’s my thoughts about the current debate on medal tallies.
It is shamefully disrespectful of any athletes to hang national medal expectations on them. They have worked hard for very little reward to get to Rio (most train on the back of full time jobs or study); they have given their best, training in heat and cold and rain when most of us are still in bed; given up social opportunities night after night for several years; they compete for their country with pride – in spite of drug cheats, selfish IOC and event officials, and insensitive reporters. Many achieve personal bests and new national records against other athletes who have themselves improved over the past 4 years. There are no guarantees of medal or even competing in finals.
Yes there is disappointment at a collective drop in performance – but please be sensitive to the women and men who have given and done things that none of us can imagine.