Watching the Olympics

Olympic-Rings-large_trans++X9gqeEfKXQcqd954t2rXzvTSL8SM4yNVj_ZSDGesqAMFour years ago I watched the Olympics opening ceremony and that was about it. I might have seen Bolt do his thing and I am sure Mo Farah was in there somewhere but I didn’t take that much notice. I’m not really much of a sporty type person. Of course back then my idea of exercise was getting a beer out of the fridge. An expedition would have taken me down to the local shops on foot. That seemed like a major sporting achievement. What I didn’t know then but do now is that the local shop is not even a mile away. A round trip is about a mile and a half and I did more than double that on track last night as a speed session. Yes things have changed. Watching the Olympics this time has given me a whole new insight now that I have a card in my wallet that calls me an athlete.
There are a few things that I appreciate now that did not even cross my mind at the London Olympics and are related to the sheer amount of work involved. I saw a headline on the interwebs which was something along the lines of ‘Bolt earns a million a second for his Olympic run’. I don’t know if that was the exact wording but the sentiment was the same. As if the only thing that happens is an athlete rocks up to the Olympics and does their event and then goes home, job done that’s all that matters. Even my Mrs has displayed this kind of misunderstanding though in a slightly different way. While watching the diving it became apparent that really there were only 2 people who were going to get anywhere and she declared that if she was there she would just go home knowing she wouldn’t be placed. I had to remind her that I run around a park for 5k every Saturday morning with no prospect of either winning or getting a medal. Even top athletes must be competing against themselves most of the time and medal prospect or not there is always the desire to push yourself further than you have ever done before. This brings me back to Bolt and his 10 seconds of work.
What we the audience don’t see is just how much preparation goes into those 10 seconds. I imageswatch the sprinters at track sometimes and the mind boggles. Practising starts with weights attached time after time. Timing themselves over the distance while being scrutinised again and again. This is just what I see once a week and if they are anything like us distance running types it doesn’t stop there. They will have morning strength training routines and extra running sessions all the things that they can do to produce small marginal gains and get a better time. Those 10 secs is not even the tip of the iceberg 99.999% of the work is not seen. I don’t know if Bolt works in the same way as the British cycling team but they have been working on these few races for the last 4 years. Longer than the whole of my running career. Taking this into account it would be more accurate to say Bolt earns 2.5 million every year. Still more than I could ever imagine earning but not even close to what a premier league footballer makes.

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