“Oh, come on, where’s the medals?” or Do the media force athletes too hard?
Members of the discussion:
We are now in the middle weekend of the Winter Olympics in Beijing and things appear to be settling into their long term averages, Germany are top (thanks to their domination in the sliding centre having won all five golds so far contested), Norway are in second place (thanks to winning as many events that have a Nordic origin) with the United States in third (thanks to the gnarly kids shredding up the snowboarding arena and the occasional quad) with a total of 26 nations having won at least one medal so far (28% of all the nations taking part).
However, that said the medal table appears to be demonstrating something else, namely some nations having a distinct problem. For instance, where are the Danes? Where are the Ukrainians? The Uzbeks? Liechtenstein? Andorra? Kazakhstan? And if the back pages of the newspapers here are any guide, “WHERE’S THE UNION JACK?”
We all remember during the summer games in Tokyo when Simone Biles (USA) on the verge of becoming confirmed as the greatest gymnast of all time suddenly announced that she was withdrawing for most of the events she had entered and as the media speculated as to the reason why she announced, “for the sake of my wellbeing!” and reported that it was the mass media focusing on her that had led to it. Even one of Great Britain’s medal heroes of late, Tom Daley, who once he was spotted kitting in the stands sent the wool industry into overdrive, admitted in a recording broadcast on Christmas Day that the reason he took up knitting was because the media pressure on him to win a medal was too much.
So, given all this pressure by the media, is there anything that we can do, as fans, supporters, and upholders of the Olympic ideal, to try and relive some of this pressure? Well, I say yes. Let’s ignore the winners, the gold medallists, the silvers, and the bronzes, and concentrate instead of those nations that provide a surprise. For instance, take yesterdays Men’s 15km (Classic) Cross Country Skiing. Yes, it was won by Finland, with Russia and Norway claiming the silver and bronze, but the real star was Thomas Maloney Westgaard representing Ireland who ranked in 14thplace (the highest ever placed Irish athlete in a Winter Olympics ever). He should receive the praise of us fans, just as he is being praised by the Irish media at the moment, therefore tomorrow in the Men’s 4 x 10km Relay don’t cheer for the Russians, the Norwegians, the Swedes, or the Finns, get your Irish tricolours out and cheer for Ireland.
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