I absolutely love the Olympics. Of course, I have favourite events – the Equestrian, the Swimming, the Marathon, the 10,000 metre – but I can sit and watch any of it. I almost wish the Olympics was run every year, although perhaps that would take the fun out of it? Or perhaps not…I reckon I would still be just as gripped by it. Having mixed allegiances means that I usually have two teams to cheer for. If the Aussies can’t get a medal then I want the Brits to (or best of all I would love them to both get one, like the silver/bronze achieved in the Equestrian Eventing). If neither of them are in the top three, then its NZ or Ireland. But I will still sit there clapping and cheering when anyone does a fine job or holding my head if someone messes up, no matter what country they represent.
So many people go on about the “magic of the Olympics” that it is now a bit of a cliche. But there really is a magic, and it is one which affects so many aspects of my sporting life – whether it be my running or my horse riding.
I was watching the interview with Paula Radcliffe a couple of days back and I could feel the ‘magic’ filling me. I was so inspired by her determination, her smile and enthusiasm, despite the disappointment she experienced in Athens in 2004 and the sheer scale of the competition she was facing. In the short interview, you could see in her eyes that she adored what she did for a living. Running marathons was her dream ‘job’, despite the hours of training, the tears, the triumphs and the sheer hard work. When I was out running this morning, wanting to stop and have a rest at 6 miles into my 7 mile run, I thought of her and how many times she would have felt like I did (although probably a lot faster and a lot further into a run). Would she have given up? No. Would any of the athletes who were competing have given up? No. And what separates me from them? Physically – a lot. Mentally – not very much at all.
I think every runner can draw inspiration from Paula and every other athlete at the Olympics in Beijing. I know that most of us will never run at that level, but just getting out there to run – to compete with ourselves and the clock and the terrain – puts us in the same league. I am as proud of every one of my medals as any Olympian, even though I know that everyone else who ran the races I did have the same medals hanging in their bedrooms. Each one is as good as any Olympic gold medal to me because I know I did the very best I could. That’s why I wish the Olympics could be run every year – just to let me watch the people I so admire, and remind me to keep doing my best no matter what.
In the meantime, I have a half marathon to run on Sunday morning. Paula will be lining up just after midnight on Saturday night, and despite the fact I need my sleep, I will be setting the alarm to watch the women’s marathon. I need my inspiration more, and I want to be just one more voice to cheer her on.
Good luck Paula.
Thank you so much, Vidiot, for the image. I was more than 2 hours behind her in New York so just didn’t get a chance to see her. This almost makes up for that.