There is a lot of celebration going on in the UK at the moment about ‘our’ Olympic success but I wonder if we should season our jubilation with a few dashes of humility?
We are talking about a tiny handful of people who have won medals compared to the overall population so ‘our’ seems a bit of a stretch; it would be fairer to remember that each of those winners has reached their podium spot in part because of their native ability refined by determined training and in large part because of the supporting networks around them – sporting clubs and supportive friends and family. When we celebrate, we should remember that those who should share the glory is still a tiny handful compared to the population but a much larger group than just the bemedaled individuals.
We should remember those who poured out their all and didn’t win. Maybe some of them didn’t work quite as hard but, when success can be defined by a tiny fraction of a second, tiny disturbances could make a difference and you only need to compete against three people who do better than you to ‘fail’. Just to get a place at the Olympics signifies that someone is exceptionally skillful so we should be careful against unconscious cruelty against those who didn’t come back with gongs.
Finally, will our future selves thank us for too much hubris? This was Britain’s most successful Olympic outing in a long time, if you measure it on wins. It was better even than when we hosted the event last time. That is a lot of pressure built up for the next one in Tokyo. Britain is drinking deeply of victory but perhaps now is time to give some thought to the hangover!?