It’s that time of the 4 years again, the Olympics have started. In the traditional lead up to the games we’ve heard all the stories out of the woodwork – the venues aren’t ready, it’s too dangerous, these will be the worst games, the Olympics is no longer relevant.
Phooey I say to the nay-sayers, especially after Rio came out and showed us they mean business with an incredible Opening Ceremony. Every four years a huge amount of pressure gets placed on our Olympic team, with their performances based on how much Gold they bring home. What seems to be lost is the essence of the Olympics, uniting the world through sport and sending our best to compete with the world’s best. While medals are the goal of most athletes, there are a whole bunch of competitors whose sole goal is to compete on the world stage.
I’m a serious Olympics tragic – something that has started as a kid and stayed with me my entire life. After being mesmerised by watching the lighting of the flame at Barcelona in 1992 on TV, the Olympics have played a continuing role in my life. I woke up in the early hours in 1993 to hear Sydney announced as the host of the 2000 Olympics as an eleven year old, with dreams of running on home soil. I was running Little Athletic’s at the time – and had my heart set on 100m/200m sprints (although I was probably much more suited to 400m/800m), training as much as I could. In 1996 I had a walkman with a radio and would listen to the results from Atlanta during lunch at school (I was also housing a stress fracture injury in my foot), and also was the proud owner of an Olympic Centenary Swatch Watch.
While I didn’t end up running in Sydney, I did volunteer at the games – ending up being a stage manager of the Athlete’s Parade at both the Opening and Closing ceremonies. I had to ensure that the countries were in order, that the flag bearer’s knew where to go, make sure the flags were in the right spot for the closing ceremony.. etc. It was an amazing experience, and one that I’m extremely thankful for. It’s from the experience, and spending it with the athletes that I can understand the real electricity in the hour before the games. My favourite part is the countdown to the Opening Ceremony, in the room with the athletes the atmosphere was something else and I have had the same feeling for each Olympic Opening Ceremony since – Athens, Beijing, London and now Rio. It gives me goosebumps!
So why are the Olympics are still relevant?
It’s about the athletes. How can anyone say that these Olympics are going to be terrible when the athletes have been training for this for 4 years? Are we really going to play down their achievements? There will be some incredible sporting performances over the next 16 days by both the faves and the underdogs; and we’ll see people transform into household names.
Additionally, the world unites through sport. While it may not have happened in the past, recently it seems fitting that all the countries are in the same place (given so much heartache in the world) and are able to put their differences aside and unite through friendly competition.
So I say bring on the Olympics, let’s see the most amazing competition by the most amazing athletes in the world!