Ok, I have to admit that I’m feeling somewhat sleep deprived. Whilst the Olympic gymnastics has been on at a sensible time for us, the swimming, cycling, athletics and tennis has not. And whilst I’ve tended to take myself up to bed around midnight, I have broken our ‘no screens in the bedroom’ rule multiple times these last couple of weeks and find myself watching on my phone. Weeeeeeell, it’s not the same when it’s not live, eh? The night before last, I went to bed at about midnight (hugely late for me!) after watching the Heptathlon javelin, knowing that there was no way I could wait until 3am to watch the 800m, the final event. I was SO keen for Jess Ennis-Hill to retain her title, but really did need to sleep. Bizarrely, I woke naturally at 2.59am and so watched it. Yes, ok, she didn’t retain her title, BUT the young Belgian Nafissatou Thiam was astonishingly good. Jess came back after having a baby, trained and came within a cat’s whisker of winning again.
Of course, it’s completely inspiring, impressive, exciting and motivating to see the likes of Adam Peaty breaking swimming world records, Max Whitlock’s historic gymnastics golds and the Laura Trott/Jason Kenny cycling achievements. But, for me, I find far more inspiration in the stories which we hear less about in the media.
Like the 41 year old gymnast Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, who is attending her 7th (yes, SEVENTH) Olympic games. She first won a world medal in 1991 and her first Olympic medal was Barcelona 1992 (the same year Sally Gunnell won gold), which was before most of this year’s Olympic gymnasts were born. Her son is older than most of her competitors. And yet, she’s not just there making up the numbers, she’s a serious contender for a vault medal. In 2002, her son was diagnosed with leukaemia, so her gymnastics training was fitted around his treatment. And yet she still kept delivering world class routines. If she needed an excuse not to train, she wouldn’t have had to have looked very far.
And our very own home grown Jo Pavey, who a couple of years ago won the European 10,000m title at the age of 40, only 10 months after giving birth, and competed in Rio this week with a 10k in 31 mins 33 secs. It was ‘only’ good enough for 15th place. But at age 42 and a mother of 2 young sons, I find this far more personally inspiring than the Usain Bolts of this world.
Interestingly, since the Olympics started, I haven’t had a single rest day. I’ve been training hard, eating well and feeling great. Being a Mum, being old, being peri-menopausal, feeling tired, ANother excuse – that’s all they are: excuses.
I’ll tell you what – not only have there been numerous inspiring performances at the Olympics, but the stunning results of TeamGB (currently second in the medal table – ahead of China!) has, at least for me, resinstored faith in our country, made people smile, given us energy, optimism and, dare I say, moved us on from the incompetence of Br**it.
Going back to Oksana, she didn’t win a medal this week, but I see she’s already been quoted as saying ‘See you at Tokyo2020’. #inspiring #ageisbutanumber #whatsyourexcuse