Olympians inspire us to be the best we can

2012-08-04 09:33

The commercialisation and ­politicisation of sports makes it easy to forget the thought that inspired the Olympic movement. Life is hard and has always been.

The ancient Greeks must have had it as tough as the rest of the world today, hence the need to let out some steam and make time every four years for a festival of fun and games. These days the line between patriotism and jingoism has been successfully blurred.

Instead of the Olympics ­being the period within which human beings make an effort to reclaim the best of the human spirit, it has for some reason become war and politics by other means.

The success of various South Africans in ­different disciplines humbles us and takes us a step back to the Olympic ideal which, in one phrase, can be summarised as doing the best one can while making friends with those who possibly would have been enemies had the politicians had their way.

Our first gold medals this week were achieved without much corporate support.

They have been a triumph of the human spirit against the odds. For that reason, they inspire us beyond the sports field and swimming pools.

Like our Olympians, South Africans in all walks of life are forever yearning for better opportunities. Many of us believe that we would have been better at whatever we are good at had we had ­better opportunities than we got. General consensus is that the sports administrators could and should do better for the development of sports.

Our political past makes it easy for us to blame circumstances for not becoming what we could have become in sports and in the economy of life.

Our Olympians remind us that, true as this might be, there is more in us than in our past, or even our present, that can define how we fare in our moment of truth. We are not as naive to think that there is no role for Corporate South Africa to play.

Good talent, drive and hard work has played a role in our Olympians reaching the heights they have, but we are certain they could have done more with better resources.

For this to happen, we require forms of private-public partnerships that unearth the talented in the far-flung and off-beaten tracks of our ­country.

The talented need funding and sound ­administrative support to flourish and become the best they can be.

The message coming from our Olympian heroes in London is that the most important attribute necessary to be a champion is a big heart and not necessarily a big purse.

That attribute is as true for the drudgery of our everyday lives as it is for those who will become Olympic champions.

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