We are really rather fickle about our Olympic athletes. Stirred by the feeling that it is our hard earned that funds their pursuits as if it’s pinched from our pocket on pay day, we have an expert opinion about each and every one of them!
As sportsfans with ‘skin in the game’ we feel entitled to express our views at every turn. Despite personal dubious athletic abilities viewed through rose tinted glasses and a total lack of experience in high performance sport, quite simply we know better.
And what a knife-edge they exist on. On the one hand we love them like close relatives for their tweeting, writing and talking so long as they toe the fine line that doesn’t upset our sensibilities. Be a good role model (whatever that means), do the right thing (whatever that means) and everything is sweet in the court of public opinion.
But step over the mark and expect to be tut tut tutted or much, much worse.
When Russell Mark went public at having to spend long and lonely nights with fellow male competitors rather than his fellow Olympian wife, many retorted he was nothing but a sook who should be grateful to be in London at all! It’s because we know everything about the demands of elite performance shooting.
We also know that Leisel Jones is out of shape, unfit to compete and should be on the first plane home based on a few grainy photos as she dived into or emerged from the pool. Of course our observations are far better than lactate analysis, blood profiling or the myriad of other physiological tests that the sport science boffins have access to!
Natalie Cook opined that nothing less than a woman carrying the Australian flag at the opening ceremony would suffice. Many felt that rather than advancing the cause of gender equity she was in fact advancing her own claims for the honour. We know because we all possess ESP when it comes to what our athletes are thinking.
Ross, Pearson, Rice, Steffensen, the list will continue to lengthen, but such is our unbridled knowledge that should they triumph we will doubtless say ‘I told you so’!