That thing with five interlocked rings is going on over in That London at the moment. You’ve probably noticed it. It’s on the telly a bit. People are talking about it. I’ve been quite swept up by it all. The people who are taking part are the very best people in the world at the things they do. Sometimes I realise that I’m watching an event with my jaw dropped.
Whether it’s the gymnasts doing their whirly-twirly-jumpy-swingy-thingies (composed landings optional, I’m looking at you Japan…), the swimmers scything their way through the water in a way which makes me wonder whether they’ve been crossbred with seals, cyclists breezing up Box Hill faster than I could ride down it or volleyball players jumping so high I think they may be about to leave Earth for good.
All these people have dedicated themselves to being the best. They’ve sacrificed time with their friends and families in pursuit of sporting achievement. They have the single mindedness, the purity of purpose, the mental and physical strength to compete for gold.
Most of them aren’t even raking in the cash as a result. Their rewards are likely to include arthritis, torn ligaments and muscles, possibly a lifetime of being a motivational speaker.
These are the examples of humanity I can hold up as potential role models for my son, along with all those intellectual greats and people who have overcome circumstances to succeed. Bloody good job too, as I’m far from being a poster boy for excellence of any sort.
This morning, I saw that spectators at the preliminary rounds of the ladies’ badminton had been treated to the sight of two of the best teams in the competition in a furious battle.
A furious battle to lose.
Amazing athletes with superlative shuttlecock skills repeatedly, deliberately knocking serves into the net. Placing shots outside of the court. Doing the exact opposite of what you’d expect from people whose primary goal for their time on this planet is to win badminton games.
Tanking a game in order to get a favourable match in the next round is tactically sound, of course. But man is it disappointing to see it happen.
To be the best you have to beat the best, whether it is in the early rounds or the finals. Tanking a game like these competitors did doesn’t show the world how awesome top level sport can be. It makes me want to not watch any more badminton, in case it happens again. It makes me think that I can't hold these people up as fighters, winners, or anything like that. All I can say is they're experts at recognising the path of least resistance. To be honest, I was hoping that would be the thing I could teach my son myself.
At least when Team GB loses at something it isn’t because we’re trying to…