Valerie Adams and Nick Willis – two of our great medal hopes for the Olympic Games. We admire them, we love them, we support them, we bombard them with messages of support and goodwill via social media like Twitter and Facebook – but we come crashing down to earth with them when they don’t live up to the huge expectations that we, as a nation, place on their shoulders. We are a small country and generally we punch above our weight in the sporting arena, but what a huge burden our elite athletes carry on their shoulders.
Personally I feel sorry for them – to compete on the world stage, having been talked up so much by the media – television, radio, and newspapers alike, must be incredibly difficult when you know, having prepared the best you possibly can, that if you put a foot wrong, you can plunge the country into deep depression. It must feel hideous to have so much pressure put upon you, when really what you need to do as an athlete, is just focus on the task at hand. Let’s leave the athletes alone to prepare, unburdened by our selfish expectations. And certainly give them some space after an event when they haven’t performed as well as they (and we, the public) might like. I find it excruciating watching them front the cameras, microphones lurching towards them, having to explain why they didn’t manage to climb their Everest. Obviously there will be reviews and they are accountable to certain sporting bodies, but both Valerie and Nick did themselves proud facing the media so soon after their respective finals. In situations like this, why can’t the media give them a day or so to collect themselves and to reflect on what happened? Its cringe-worthy television in my view. We might as well put them in the stocks and be done with it….
In my opinion, we should enjoy the Olympics for what it is – a brilliant sporting spectacle, full of incredible athleticism, drama, colour and controversy, providing an amazing viewing experience for us all. We have to recognise though, that some days will be “feel good days” for our athletes when the stars align, and we are privileged to see stellar performances like that of our Rowing team. Conversely, there will be days when nothing quite comes together the way it should, and we as spectators have to get over it and move on. After all, Nick and Valerie will have to do that too … Bring on Rio 2016.