No more sand in face of Dockers
No more sand in face of Dockers

One of the benefits of social media is that you can keep up with developments at home wherever you might be in the world.

While covering the 2012 Olympics there have been regular checks of micro-blogging platforms to gauge the reaction to the Games in Australia.

There is a belief most Twitter and Facebook comments are driven by negative reaction – just like talkback radio. And there has been a fair splattering of venom directed towards our athletes in London.

Gauging from a sample of opinions there is a lot of disappointment with the green and gold uniforms.

Sure, the current tally of 31 medals means Australia won’t catch the 46 won in Beijing four years ago. There is no chance of reaching the record 58 collected in Sydney in 2000 but then all host nations enjoy a spike in podium finishes. Look at Great Britain.

However, the criticisms have gone as far as derision when our sportspeople finish second.

There is no doubt every athlete at any Games wants a gold medal. To strive for anything less cheapens the performance and the event. Yet in many cases being first is impossible.

In some instances a silver medal is a victory. For others making the final is the achievement. Then there are those who consider success to simply be at the Olympics in the first place.

And it is true there are cases when not being first isn’t good enough. Ask James Magnussen, who entered the water at the Stratford aquatic centre convinced he could be 100m freestyle champion only to be pipped by 0.01sec by American Nathan Adrian. Magnussen’s disappointment was palpable. Same for the fans back home.

For every Magnussen there is a Peter Crawford. The Townsville Crocodiles guard played just six minutes for the Boomers in the basketball tournament. He would love to have been on court longer. But for Crawford making the number one Australian team for the first time was the pinnacle of a 13-year professional career. His reaction at national selection was an indelible memory from these Games.

As were Kristy Harrower’s tears after the Opals lost their gold medal chance to the mighty Team USA. But the 37-year-old, at her fourth and final Games, dried her eyes and looked in the faces of a few hardened sports scribes to say, “we have to get over this. I want to be able to say that I’m a four-time Olympian and I won four Olympic medals.”

Bronze is so important because it will be the last possible honour Harrower will share with the Opals, a couple of whom she has played with for a decade.

Some Australians have forgotten the Olympic ideologies and overlooked our place in a sporting world that has never been bigger or better funded.

The Games are about competing, testing your talents against the best. And a greater number of countries, many with 10 times our population – if not more – want to win. That competition has never been stronger.

Also, there is an element down under who have been brainwashed by the football codes. Each week there are victories and defeats, winners and losers. Just being part of the action isn’t sufficient and that is understandable in a half-yearly competition. After all, there is always next week.

The Olympics are every four years. A lot can happen in that period. So to be ripe and ready when the five-ringed sporting circus puts up its big top is a credit to every participating athlete. To dominate at that moment is extraordinary.

There is no doubt we wanted to hear Advance Australia Fair more often at these Games. But for many here that was never going to happen.

If running second means you are first loser, why bother turning up at all?

The answer is because every athlete wants to get the optimum personal result in the pre-eminent environment.

It is the Australian way to give everything a fair go – in loyalty and vigour.

And we should respect those who got the chance in London.

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