‘Olympic Nan’ de­serves a medal

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Views -

It takes great com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion to reach the top in any­thing in life, whether you are a fa­mous ac­tor like War­wick Davies or a top gym­nast such as Louis Smith.

Both will have had to put in long hours away from their fam­i­lies, hon­ing their skill and ply­ing their trade, both will have missed out on things we all take for granted, all in pur­suit of their dreams.

Suc­cess can­not be achieved in iso­la­tion though; be­hind ev­ery story is a de­voted fam­ily mem­ber pre­pared to forego sleep, food and their own san­ity, in or­der to fol­low that yel­low brick road, to who knows where it might lead.

Louis Smith has his mum to thank for in­spir­ing him on to Olympic glory (and trust me, she also makes a mean cup of tea!) whilst across the city mums, dads, grand­mas and grandads, try to do the same for their po­ten­tial medal win­ners of the fu­ture.

At the crack of dawn, in the re­gional pool car park, mums des­per­ately glug co­pi­ous amounts of cof­fee be­fore watch­ing their lit­tle ones take their first strokes to­wards glory.

Count­less miles are clocked up on dad’s Mon­deo, fer­ry­ing po­ten­tial ath­letic won­ders, to run­ning tracks and sand pits in places you had never thought of visit­ing, whilst hockey pitches and gym­na­si­ums echo to the sound of en­cour­age­ment from the proud­est of re­la­tions.

The re­wards for suc­cess are ev­i­dent; to be part of the great­est show on earth, to make your fam­ily proud, to help cre­ate his­tory.

Of course only a hand­ful of the 11,000 ath­letes tak­ing part in Rio will come home with a medal and even fewer will dis­cover mon­e­tary re­ward for their tremen­dous in­vest­ment of time and ef­fort; for ev­ery Michael Phelps (es­ti­mated worth£50m) there is a thou­sand oth­ers who will be go­ing home to anonymity and a large over­draft.

But the ma­jor­ity are not in it for the money or the fame; they want to test them­selves against their con­tem­po­raries and judge whether they are in­deed, “Swifter, higher or stronger.”

Hav­ing re­ported for the BBC from the Syd­ney Olympics in 2000, I can tes­tify to that be­ing the case.

I was for­tu­nate to sam­ple the spe­cial Olympic at­mos­phere and get a unique be- hind the scenes in­sight into the games; there were no pampered foot­ballers driv­ing around in flash cars, or agents ne­go­ti­at­ing big money con­tracts, just ath­letes of all na­tion­al­i­ties, min­gling to­gether, brother and sis­ters of the world, with a com­mon pur­pose.

Sir Steve Red­grave wasn’t think­ing about Nike train­ers or Head and Shoul­ders sham­poo when he climbed into the boat, on that amaz­ing day at Pen­rith lakes, his eyes were in­stead fixed on the fin­ish line and a fifth con­sec­u­tive gold medal.

Money and fame couldn’t have been fur­ther from the mind of Adam Peaty as he climbed into the pool in Rio and then smashed his own world record, tak­ing Bri­tain’s first men’s gold in the pool since 1988.

None was prouder of his amaz­ing achieve­ment than his Nan, Mavis; dubbed “Olympic Nan”, for her adorable posts on Twit­ter, in sup­port of her grand­son; in fact, Olympic Nan could yet end up be­ing the “real” star of Rio 2016!

This year’s Olympics in Brazil may have been over­shad­owed by dop­ing and they are tak­ing place in a vir­tual po­lice state but the world needs this sort of in- spi­ra­tion right now and our chil­dren do, too.

They are play­ing less and less sport these days and these in­cred­i­ble sports­men and women will pro­vide im­por­tant role mod­els that the fu­ture Olympians of this city can as­pire to be.

For that we have to thank all those “Olympic Nans”, mums and dads of the past for their self­less sup­port and sac­ri­fice.

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