Up until the very last moment, we weren’t sure if we would get there, but twelve months on and Tokyo 2020 has finally kicked off, so one week in, what have we learnt?
Well, if you’re anything like us, the week has been somewhat of a roller coaster that’s had us jumping up and down cheering great wins one minute and then slumped on the sofa lamenting losses the next.
But, as the track and field athletes start to join the party, here are three stand out learnings for us.
It’s a Game of Inches
If anyone has seen or heard Al Pacino’s speech in the film Any Given Sunday, you’ll know what I’m talking about here (and if you haven’t, please proceed to go watch it tonight).
Pacino goes on to proclaim life or football, the margin for error is so small — one-half a step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One-half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it.
We’ve seen this exemplified in the first week of competition:
- Swimmer Ariane Titmus defeated the defending champion Katie Ledecky to win the 400m freestyle by 7 tenths of a second and winning gold in the 200m freestyle by 4 tenths of a second
- Canoeist Jessica Fox was in line for a gold medal with the fastest time by 0.77 seconds before a time penalty pushed her back to bronze (thankfully she then grabbed Gold a day later!)
- Boxer Skye Nicholson went down via a split decision in a 3-2 loss in the quarter-finals
For some, it’s the elation of just getting there to capture their goal. For others, it’s an agonisingly close call that sends them back to the drawing board.
No One is Invincible
World number 1? Doesn’t mean a lot at the Olympics.
In just the first week of competition we’ve seen:
- Ash Barty knocked out of the tennis (twice)
- Jessica Fox come in at third place of the K1 canoe
- The USA basketball team go down to France
- Katie Ledecky relinquish two of her swimming crowns
- Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz conquer the world record holder to win her country’s first ever Olympic gold medal
The fact that we are seeing the best in the world be beaten owes to the immense talent and work ethic these athletes across the world possess.
It’s what makes the Olympics so great and will keep us glued to the TV for days to come.
How great is sport!!
Athletes are Human Too
Naomi Osaka withdrew from Wimbledon, Liz Cambage from the Australian basketball and now Simone Biles has withdrawn from gymnastics competition due to mental health struggles.
Society puts these incredible athletes on a pedestal as they represent us on the world stage, completing feats of athleticism that we may only dream about.
As Australians, we live and breathe our sport – screaming our support, but also letting it be known when we feel let down.
The fact that, at the Olympics, we are seeing competitors withdraw from competition because they don’t feel mentally equipped is something we need to respect, not only as supporters, but as fellow humans.
No doubt we’ll see these athletes back soon and hopefully better than ever, but lets make sure that win, lose or draw, we are behind them and simply respect the amazing talent, work ethic and humanity that they possess.
Keen For More?
So, as we come to the tail end of the first week of competition, we’ve witnessed the immense highs and lows that come with elite sport. We’ve seen champions toppled, remarkable comebacks and inspiring stories of determination.
We’ve learnt that no one is untouchable and that at this level, it’s a game of inches.
The great news is that it’s not over yet, so if you need us we’ll be in front of the television riding the rollercoaster with our fellow Australians.
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