This has been an interesting week to be an Olympic sponsor, but nobody has more of a stake in the Games than the athletes. Drew Ginn, the Australian rower, put it into perspective on Monday when he responded to a comment on his blog on why he was going to Beijing:
“This is an opportunity for all of us to realise the World is bigger than our back yard. People live in different ways and countries have operated in different ways. The impact of the Games will have both positive and negative outcomes. Hopefully thereâ€™s more of the former occurring and what I do feel strongly about is that as an athlete I will perform in the spirit that the Games was intended.”
Carter made the decision to block American athletes from participating in the 1980 Moscow Games, and some good friends of mine had their lives seriously messed up by that decision to block them from competing because of Soviet geopolitics. Politics and sport don’t mix well, but they try, and the Olympics is the most political pulpit in sport.
So, as I try to make sense of it all, I read Drew’s most recent post, about a training ride on bicycles. It’s pretty powerful:
“With each pedal stroke I tried to maintain the unsustainable speed and bit by bit my heart was pounding and attempting to keep up with the demand. At this stage I realised I could not go any quicker but was resolved to keep my speed as high as I could and with this came the deep heaving breathes that were a final indicator of being right on the limit. The last section we caught the traffic lights and as we braked I had the wonderful sense of that strange dynamic between ecstasy and agony. A twilight zone of sorts and as we continued up to the meeting point the sheer bliss was remarkable. We all chatted away and made comments about the various things that took place and all of us where very much on the limit which is why we love going out for these types of rides.”