Monday, April 22, 2024

Many Olympic lessons

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THE 31ST INSTALMENT of the Summer Olympics has reached its conclusion, and boy was it exciting. We saw records being broken, new personal bests being achieved, new champions taking the podium and familiar faces proving that they are still at the top of their specific discipline.

But as entertaining as the Olympics was for almost all of us to watch, and as rewarding as it must have been for the thousands of athletes who had the privilege to compete, there are some universal lessons that we can all take away from the greatest sporting event in the world.

What about the event itself? Every four years the world is at its most unified as our nations’ representative athletes compete against each other for one of the top three spots in each discipline. Every nation is tuned into the action and even when our country is not represented, we are keenly interested to see which country comes out on top.

This is important because in a world where increasingly frequent rumblings of inter-country strife are evident, we need a timely reminder through the Olympics that we can all compete against, challenge and push each other to perform at our highest levels without the desire to destroy, ostracise and segregate from each other. I hope that all current and potential world leaders were paying close attention to this particular lesson.

What about the athletes? These guys and gals train for many years – sometimes for several hours each day – to push themselves to the highest levels of performance. I grew up hearing it said that nothing good comes easy and indeed, for athletes competing at the Olympics, they have an appreciation for the demanding levels of hard work required to not only reach the games, but to receive a gold, silver or bronze medal.

Hard work

 This should remind us that we as individuals have to be willing to put in the hard work and dedication to our various endeavours to be the very best. We have to move away from the mentality that we will just do enough to “fit in” or “get by”, and seek to adopt the mindset that we must be the best.

The best destination for tourists. The best educational system in the world. The best place to do business. The highest performing economy across all key macroeconomic indicators. Offering the very best social services possible in the most efficient and cost-effective ways. It can be done; but like the athletes we viewed over the last few weeks, we have to adopt a mindset that is willing to work hard to achieve the highest level on the podium.

Another thing that we can learn from many of these athletes is that we should never give up on our dreams. Indeed, many of us have dreams that seem too big for us to ever achieve – that’s why they are called dreams. In pursuing these dreams, we may sometimes meet more failure than success, and some persons give up in the face of such circumstances.

For many of the athletes we saw, this was maybe their second or even third shot at “Olympic glory”, and for quite a few of them this is when they finally did it. We cannot afford to give up on our dreams. If we keep at it, striving for the best each time, we will some day reach the gold.

And lastly, what about the host country? The last year has not been the easiest for Brazil with the changing of their president under unfortunate circumstances and a heavily depressed economy. However, there was an obvious herculean effort made to ensure that they executed what, for all intents and purposes, was a highly successful Olympiad.

This should remind us that no matter what we have faced in the past, no matter where we have been and what we have been through, if we work together and stay focused on the goal, we can accomplish great and magnificent things. The Olympics is a great teacher once we are willing to learn.

– DAVIDSON ISHMAEL

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