It’s time we celebrate the Olympians beyond the medals.
The Olympics creates such a whirlwind of emotions for so many. For some, they set new personal bests and beat Olympic or world records. For others, they underperformed or had to withdraw. The years of a sports career at its peak perhaps amount to a decade or two before the body can no longer outperform younger competitors. Any mistake in a match and there goes your chance. It's skills, talent, endurance but also a game of nerves.
I've been reflecting on the idea of a career as one's service to the world. How could you best contribute in the working hours of your life? So often entire nations look to these athletes with such high expectations; they are defined by the excellence of their performance - failure to do so brings about so much backlash and nasty comments. May we not forget that they are humans who have to bear the weight of such immense pressure and that the past one and a half years hadn't been easy for us all in the chaos of a worldwide pandemic. Yes, applaud the achievements and the record breakers - these athletes managed to do all that despite disruptions in training - but don't put down the ones who didn't win any medals. They too worked hard. The Olympics isn't built on equal grounds. Some athletes will have the privilege and advantage of being supported by their state in their sports careers - others have to fight their way up bootstrapping or through family support, financially, emotionally, just to get the expertise and infrastructure. We are quick to share the glory of someone else's success just because we are from the same country but often, we played no part in that process. The hard work, the injuries, the sacrifices... There is so much more to an Olympics career than those moments of highlights we see on screen.
To all athletes out there, I hope you’d define yourself more than just the medals and your sport achievements. You are much more and you have a story to tell. Tell your story yourself and that story remains to be continued even after your Olympic career ends.
Medal or not, you did well. Keep your chin up, remember your passion, your dreams and the excitement your sport gives you. Perhaps the reason so many across the globe tune in to these matches is because it awakens a yearning of endless possibilities and dreamers not afraid to make their dreams a reality.
Rock on and have fun.