I had little interest in the Olympics this year. Considering what the entire world has been through in the last 18 months, I didn’t see the relevance or importance of the games. I also thought the absence of spectators would beam across the miles to our television screens and make watching a flat, dull experience. Then I realized that wasn’t important.
What’s important is that the athletes showed up and brought their best game. COVID upped the pressure and forced them to wait an extra year, but nothing was keeping them from Tokyo in 2021. Take Canadian weightlifter Maude Charron. With gyms and training centres closed because of COVID for a long time, she trained alone in her father’s garage. To stay motivated, she plastered the walls with inspirational quotes. It paid off; she won gold in Tokyo.
The Tokyo games also saw athletes shining a light on the importance of their mental and physical health. American gymnast, Simone Biles, withdrew from some events when the pressure affected her focus and mental health, making it dangerous for her to perform. Pamela Ware of the Canadian diving team aborted a difficult dive and went into the water feet-first after making a mistake and realizing she might injure herself if she tried to pull it off anyway. It cost her a chance at the medal rounds. “I think that if I would have done the dive, I could have possibly hurt myself,” she said in an interview afterwards.
I’m glad I changed my mind and tuned in to watch the games. It was inspiring. Politics, language, flag and skin color aside, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are shared experiences for all athletes. Congratulations to all of them for showing up and giving it their all. A nod also goes out to host country, Japan, for moving forward with the games in difficult conditions.