The Olympics are upon us and sports fever has gripped many. As millions of eyes are glued on TV screens all over the world rooting for their favourite athletes and respective countries, I’d say the Olympics represent much more than what they are on the surface. If one looks at the history of the games from the ancient to the modern varieties, several themes emerge. Peace and mutual understanding through the sports field is one of them. The oft quoted idea of the ‘triumph of the human spirit’ is another. The history of the games is littered with inspirational moments of athletes who push themselves harder than ever before because it’s the Olympics. Every four years, we revel in this festival of sport and see how athletes of countries that are enemies on the political field can share a common bond on the sports field. It’s a nice thing to have.
Critics might say that the Olympics are special because they don’t happen so often. The world championships in the respective sports are usually much more competitive and many athletes do plan to peak for those on a yearly basis but there’s something about the ethos of the Olympics and the global reach of the games that makes it just that little bit more special. That and the fact that the bragging rights for the champions last four years instead of one for the world champs.
As someone who’s trying desperately to pass himself off as a pseudo-athlete of sorts, the Olympics holds a slightly greater appeal. I’ve had my share of trying to push myself to run that bit faster, to pedal that much harder and to shave just a couple of seconds off that last lap in the pool. I can understand (somewhat) what an athlete goes through to make it to the Olympics and that just increases the awe at the feats of athleticism that’s displayed there. Knowing my limits just makes what happens at the games even more amazing.
What continues to draw me to the Olympics is the idea of pushing ourselves faster, higher and stronger (our English equivalent of citius, altius, fortius). It’s representative of how we can live our lives – always seeking that little bit more and never ceasing in our quest to do better in whatever we do. I could say that a tiny bit of this rubbed off on me as I chased my own sporting dreams of participating in triathlons which led me to complete one of a distance that I didn’t even dare contemplate when I started (that story is told here). As small as this may seem in the light of the amazing athletic achievements going on in Beijing now, it’s done in the same spirit. Going that bit more, beyond what we’re used to and beyond what we thought was possible and achieving that. After that, everything else seems that much easier. And that much more possible.
So as we live our fairly ordinary lives, we strive to live up to the Olympic motto in the little things that we do – pushing ourselves just as the athletes push themselves for years on end just for that that one little sliver of metal on a ribbon. We’re all Olympians at heart – we just need to find that within us.