Friday, 10 August 2012

Medals don't matter

"Can there be anything better?" I asked in my previous post, referring to the Olympics. Having watched the Men's Hockey semi-finals last night - since it was the sport I was best at, which isn't saying much! - I guess the English team would definitely say, "Yes"! After their 9 - 2 drubbing by the Netherlands (No gloating, Otto!) their captain, Barry Middleton, was given the traditional once-over by the merciless BBC commentator. The worst possible outcome would be coming fourth. Fourth in the Olympics - it's not bad, is it, after all? And yet commentators seem to regard anything outside the medals as failure - which I suspect reflects the attitude of the UK's Head Coach, Charles de Commenee.

I prefer the attitude of my ex-pat Australian friend, Liz Jones. Australia of course has had a far leaner Games than Great Britain, and I suspect sporting success is dearer to the Ozzie psyche than to us. "After hearing a newsreader saying this morning, 'Finally some gold medals, now we can be proud,' I just had to make a comment, to even make it to the Olympics is HUGE - I am proud of all of them, medals or not - they have given their lives to reach where they are now.... Yes it's fantastic to win the gold - but don't bring down the inner spirt of all who have tried so hard. I will now get off my soap-box...." Well said, Liz.

from Daily Mail
This morning I'm sorry that the BBC has completed ignored the achievement of unassuming Kenyan, David Rudisha, achieving the sole world record of the Games, in the 800 metres, mentioning only Usain Bolt, the self-appointed "legend", and our own three gold medallists of yesterday. What was remarkable about the race was the way he seemed to pull all the other runners with him so that each achieved either national or personal best times. It was a beautiful race. I think of the running track at Chogoria High (Senior) School where I taught for a year before the days of Kipchoge Keino in which the lane lines were carved out with pangas and even in those days amazing high-altitude athletics took place. Then the school's motto was something like "Thiaga Nakio Mbere" - which means, in the local language, "Press on towards the mark". That's really more like the point. It's not to achieve metal gongs you have to leave behind. It's to persevere towards the goal, as St Paul expressed it: "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." 

I've always appreciated the prayer of Ignatius of Loyola. It's a better perspective than regarding completing the race but not winning as failure: 
Dearest Lord, 
teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve You as You deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for reward
save that of knowing I am doing Your Will.  

In the end we won't be asked if we came in first; we'll be asked if we persevered faithfully to the finishing line.

PS Sadly I'm too late to prevent Dutchman Otto's satisfaction. He has just written: "the NINE-TWO tasted wonderfully well"!

1 comment:

  1. My motto for the Olympics would be : "Who does the best his circumstance allows, does well, acts nobly - Angels could do no more". That was a favourite of my dear old Dad (b. 1875)who only ever asked that I would "do my best".