How is everyone enjoying the Olympics so far? I’m loving it as much as the next person. If you cast your mind back a few weeks, I wrote this
and also penned The Olympics: How to be an armchair expert
in the July issue of madison
. Even this morning I was up at 5:30am to watch the swimming.
But I have a confession to make. I’m not as concerned this time round with how many gold medals we win
. Let me clarify: it is great/exciting/fantastic when we do, but I’ve realised that it’s the mettle of athletes – rather than their medals – which means more to me in London.
This may seem curious seeing I come from a sporting background, but I think there are two main reasons for this.
Firstly, has anyone else recognised the constant comparison that the mainstream media is already making (especially television) between us and the Brits? Yesterday I watched some coverage that was basically boasting Australia had won their first gold medal, while the Brits were yet to be among the exclusive club of Day-One-Gold-Medal-Winners
. It bordered on childish. I know this stems back from the days of colonialism and the new country versus the motherland
, but I don’t see why we still have to prove we are better than them – in the Olympic swimming pool, in the cycling velodrome or on the athletics track - all the time.
In Sydney, we had our Games. As a country, we poured millions and millions of dollars not only into hosting the Games but athlete development leading up to it too. As a result, we had our best Olympics result ever with 16 gold, 25 silver and 17 bronze medals
. Now the Brits are doing the same, so can’t we just let them enjoy it?
This “us versus them”
mentality has not made me want to win more gold – it has adversely made me think “who bloody cares?”
Can’t we all just enjoy our successes and individual achievements without resorting to this old colonial competitiveness and endless comparisons?
Secondly, as many of you would know I worked alongside my colleague Fiona MacDonald in producing the feature Meet Australia's Most Inspiring Women
for our August issue (read about my behind-the-scenes-experience here
. If there’s anything I learned from the whole experience, it’s that success, inspiration and achievement all comes in many forms
. Not just by being first past the post.
So I am viewing these Olympics with the fresh mindset that a gold medal does not necessarily mean heroism.
Yesterday I saw a story about a young Irish male gymnast who competed despite being told not once, but twice
that he would never walk again
(read about him here
and see him pictured left). His name is Kieran Behan, he is 23, and he didn’t make the finals. But the very fact he came back from two such devastating blows and competed made him an absolute superstar in my eyes
What does everyone else think? Do we place too much emphasis on winning gold medals instead of celebrating achievements against adversity and personal stories of success?
Are you like me and a bit over the constant comparison between us and the Brits? I fear that at least one reader will accuse me of sacrilege ...
Jessica Montague is madison’s features writer and sub-editor. You can follow her on Twitter here