Sunday 21 August 2016

An open letter to every Olympic athlete.

   Dear Olympic athletes.

   Well done. Truly. Well done to every single one of you of every nationality. You trained like hell, you gave it your all, and a lot of you were carrying your country's expectations on your own shoulders. There were a few team sports, but a lot of you were out there on your own, performing by yourself, which meant that any and every mistake has to be acknowledged rather than shrugged off onto someone else, but it also means that every accomplishment has to be acknowledged, too. And when I say 'accomplishment' I don't mean 'win'. I mean personal victories, be it simply getting into the Olympics itself (which is the dream of countless athletes right there), completing a difficult gymnastics move whether you got perfect scores or not, or being beaten by an opponent and being able to acknowledge that they were simply better than you and accepting that you still have room to grow.
   A great many of you didn't get your shiny metal necklace or bunch of flowers, and I won't say 'who cares' because who doesn't love a trophy or a memento? But to be honest, I'm actually astounded by every one of your abilities, and more so by the incredible impression you've left on untold numbers, from encouraging young athletes to inspiring people - be they 5 or 50 - to try something new. And that, truly, is amazing. No, it may not be long-lived, but physical activity isn't inviting for a lot of people in this day and age, and to not only plant the idea but cause it to blossom into an honest attempt is an incredible power to wield.

   So while a lot of you didn't get any medals, and others got their sixth, stop and take a moment to consider how you've impacted complete strangers. Being a good loser, accepting defeat with a smile, can be inspiring in itself. I know I have far more respect for people who lose with a smile than I do for gracious winners, because it can be hard when you give your best and it isn't good enough - at any point in life.
   So well done absolutely everyone for making it to the Olympics, for giving it your all, for carrying your nation's expectations on your shoulders and for inspiring another generation. I'm seeing pictures and videos of kids all over the internet right now copying a range of athletes and a range of sports, some trying to do kickboxing, others pretending to ride a horse, and one six year old in particular who was trying to do one-handed push ups and was doing little more, really, than a one-armed plank and bobbing his head up and down.
   If ever there was a role model worth having, it's you.

   I wish you the best of luck with your training and in your next competitions.

   Kim x


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