Friday, 22 August 2008

Going for Bronze

Have you been glued to the Olympics, like me? Every morning, instead of my usual "BBC Breakfast" program, I've been watching the BBC's live coverage of the summer Olympics in Beijing. Throughout the day, at work, we've been checking the BBC's website for updates; "Have we won another medal yet?" is a common refrain from whomever has spent the last hour in a meeting. 7pm is the highlights program - another must watch.

Given my dual-country-status as an Aussie who has spent half her life in Britain, I'm particularly amused by the rivalry that has developed on the British side, where the Brits are happy but only because they have more gold medals than the Aussies. Throughout the last two weeks it's been "We've almost caught up with the Australians," "We're level on Gold medals," "The Aussies are ahead," etc. And this isn't just my husband teasing me; it's happening on the BBC, too. The current status:-

Gold 18
Silver 13
Bronze 11
Total = 42
Ranking 3rd


Gold 11
Silver 14
Bronze 16
Total = 41
Ranking 6th
I'm not bitter. Honest. When you consider that Australia's population is less than 1/10th that of the United States and about 1/5 that of Great Britain or France or Germany, coming 6th in the Olympics is a huge achievement. Especially when I remember the dark days of the Montreal Olympics, where we won one (1) single Silver medal and four (4) Bronze.*

For the Australian nation, coming home from Montreal with FIVE medals and no gold medals was a huge shock to the system, a real ego blow. There is a huge part of our national identity tied up in sport. We're a small nation at the empty end of the planet; not much sphere of influence there. Sport is one way of getting our collective voice heard in the big wide world. Virtually all our national heroes are sporting heroes (understandable when your recorded history only goes back some 200-odd years). Montreal was a turning point. It lead to the founding of the Australian Institute of Sport and the subsequent professionalising of much of Australia's sporting infrastructure. And 32 years later, I'm enjoying watching the results.

Ahem... Pamela. Stop avoiding the Question. How is your Olympics challenge?

OK, a confession. I've been avoiding blogging because I haven't been very successful at my challenge. I've been trying to figure out a way to put a positive spin on all this, but I'm failing. I'm not worthy of a gold medal. Or a silver. But I reckon my case for a bronze is still valid.

Over the last 15 days, there have been six when I didn't exercise/perform the challenge. I lost last weekend to a migraine (which finally wore off completely on Monday) and three days to laziness. By my reckoning, the migraine took me from gold (perfect score) to silver. It was beyond my control.

As long as I continue to exercise until the closing ceremony on Sunday, I think I still deserve the bronze. Yes, laziness reared it's ugly head, but I have managed to beat it back into it's corner during the majority of the days of the Challenge. And that is what an Olympic Challenge is all about really - picking a goal and fighting your way past the demons until you succeed.

- Pam (Come on Aussies Come on!!!)

*That's actually more than I remembered. I only remembered the Bronze in the swimming, and was checking out the name of the swimmer** on the Australian Olympic Committee website when I found the real tally.

**His name was Stephen Holland, a.k.a. "Super Fish".

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