A Nation’s Weight on Athlete Shoulders

The Games of the XXXI Olympiad. Rio De Janerio, Brazil. Held at August 5-21, 2016. A lifelong dream, for many Olympians. But for some, a pivotal point in their career; with the whole world watching.



Australia has always had high hopes for its Olympic athletes. From some of the most notable athletes Cathy Freeman and Ian Thorpe, the IOC has continued their mission to Rio. The mission being to get as many Golds for the Green and Gold team, as possible. So much so, to the point that expectations become exceedingly high for Aussies to produce the goods.

This became notably clear, as Swimming legends, former Olympic Medallists and a current World Record Holder, Bronte and Cate Campbell ‘The Campbell Sisters,’ were reported by Australian media as ‘failing to deliver,’ during this year’s Olympic Games. Although they both finished fifth and seventh, respectively in their pet events the 50m freestyle, they felt like they needed to apologise to Australia for not doing better.

An Olympic finalist; surely is an achievement in its own right, something to be extremely proud of. But with the media’s expectations hitting hard on these great Aussie swimmers, you can begin to wonder if the pressure to perform; was just too great for the experienced swimmers. Cate herself said of her 50m race performance, “It wasn’t my best [in the 50m]. It’s fair to say that this week hasn’t been my best. I think the world got to witness possibly the greatest choke in Olympic history a couple of nights ago. I nearly needed someone to come and give me the Heimlich manoeuvre to help me out there.” This girl deserve a break!

It is reported to be found that athletes, generally perform greater when they are relaxed with no weight on their shoulders. And surely the nation, if not the whole world’s eyes on you, expecting a phenomenal result at the greatest sporting competition in the world, would weigh anyone down.

On a parallel, Australia’s eighteen year old Olympic debutante Kyle Chalmers, took to the pool of his first Olympics and surprised the world, winning the title and taking the Gold for Australia. He swum his race, without expectation from the media; telling him he ‘was the favourite,’ or ‘he should have won.’ He simply did the best his body could do and that happened to be the best in the world. It was revealed by The Daily Telegraph’s interview on the teenager, that ‘he barely knew who his Olympic rivals were.’ An extraordinary comparison to the Campbell Sisters, who both have great international competing experience.

Australia’s Olympians, should all take a leaf out of the Fastest Man in The World’s book, Usain Bolt. Who defended his 100m Olympic Title for the third games in the row last night. A man, who even before he moves ‘faster than lightening;’ still manages to pull a smile for the camera and remains seemingly relaxed. He manages to remain unbewildered by the whole world’s expectations on him to perform well, time after time.

Psychology plays a huge part in sport. For the athlete’s body to perform at optimum level, their mind must also be equally as strong. The question then, is how an athlete can execute a perfect performance; on the world’s sporting stage? This may well and truly lie in who the athlete is competing for? Themselves and their family/friends or people they haven’t even met? The priority there, would surely assist in executing a good performance.


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