As the sports tragic that I am I couldn’t let any more time pass before writing about the Olympics. Admittedly it has taken me until now to do so as I have been glued to the TV. I fall asleep watching it only to wake up the next day and turn it back on. I am completely addicted to it and not necessarily in the way that so many people are. That winning feeling is amazing and it is very easy to get caught up in it but that is not what has me glued to the set.
I love that it gives sports that usually lurk in the shadows the chance to showcase their athletes and their sport to the world. I have admired our beach volleyball team, have relished in the chance to watch the hockey (even if the results have been mixed) and marvelled at the strength of those playing water polo. Rugby Sevens in Australia may now get more attention after our group of girls delivered one of those elusive gold medals. There is one thing I know for sure, Australia love a winner.
Thursday morning saw me witness something special as we took on the USA in basketball. It was thrilling to watch, the result of course not showing how close it truly was. The most astounding thing was that we had them rattled; there was a slight look of panic in their eyes. We have developed a dream team of our own, with Bogut, the ever-imposing figure and Patty Mills scoring a raft of points. The real star I felt was Dellavedova, his distribution of the ball was outstanding, reading the play and knowing exactly where to put the ball when. It was beautiful to watch. While Anthony’s three point accuracy ultimately proved the difference I have a good feeling about these guys and if we continue on this path could well bring home a medal.
Special mentions must be made to Catherine Skinner, who held her nerve admirably in a tense shoot off and Mack Horton who delivered our first gold medal. I particularly enjoyed watching our girls bring home the relay gold. I love that the team swimming events exist because I feel they promote unity in what is otherwise a very individual sport. Concentrating on their teammates, instead of the clock offers them a chance to not just taste glory, but share it.
The pool has delivered its fair share of glory and disappointment as always and typifies the roller coaster that is the Olympic Games. Michael Phelps has shown the world that he has still got it and there is nothing he cannot do. Australia’s performance has been solid but isn’t without a cloud of disappointment. The Campbell sisters had a very tough day today and I think showed the true difference that is revealed in Olympic competition. It can best be explained by looking at the Men’s 100m final yesterday. McEvoy, with so much expectation on his shoulders had everything to lose in the final. Kyle Chalmers however, had everything to gain. Nobody was really concentrating on him, except him. He stuck to his plan and it paid off.
The Olympic Games are filled with outstanding athletes, the best in the world at what they do. The champions, those who bring home the gold, go harder, perform better, move faster but most importantly they remain calmer. The true differentiator is the ability to hold your nerve and not get lost in the wave that is this global event. 4 years (or even more) of preparation comes down to one moment and the ability to rise in that moment is the key. It cannot be taught, cannot be practised and cannot be tested until the moment arrives. It is then that we see champions emerge.