Time for United Olympics
Imagine once upon a time, a simple muddy ground, coliseum and games to prove strength and valour. This is as close to the Olympics that were held in Greece in honour of the God Zeus.
Modern Olympics started off when in 1894 the International Olympic Committee was founded in 1894 and the first games happened in 1896 in Athens comprising of 14 participating countries and over 200 athletes.
Fast-forward to the most recent Summer Olympics held in Rio where over 11,000 athletes participated from over 200 countries includes a team from the Refugees. This Billion Dollars event was in the news for various reasons including Zika Virus, over budget finances, delays in infrastructure and mostly athletes doping problems.
But the Olympics is the event of a lifetime for any athlete, ask Usain Bolt who became the only athlete in the history to achieve up to 9 Gold Medals from his 3 Olympics performances. Thus, this event means everything to an athlete, whether he or she comes from Addis Ababa, London or Nairobi.
There are several key ingredients that are required to make a great athlete. These include grit, a great coach and support from the home country’s Government for expenses. Then he or she is unstoppable. You can have a hardworking athlete, almost the fittest and fastest person on the track or their field, but if the coach does not create an enabling environment and strict regime, it is all for nothing. This synergy is like magic, the coach is not the athlete, but he or she has to bring out the athlete in the athlete and of course the competitor in the athlete, otherwise why else try? There are goals to achieve, records to break and medals to win. Finally if these two are ready but the championships are marred with corruption, facilities are dwindling in the state of lack of interest and officials eat expenses away on personal splendors, then they may as well fund their own way to the event of their own lifetime and not wait on handouts.
The Olympics generates Billions of Dollars in worldwide sponsorships from corporates, multi-nationals and others for this Television and now Social Media extravagance. Everything is at stake, from the water bottle, running shoes, ropes, poles, boards, buses, hats, you name it, everything is selling and every inch is covered with a brand that is looking to increase sales in the country hosting the event. Then what about the athletes? Where is their share? An Olympic medal does not feed or run a home, put children through school unless your country is well set up to take care of you especially like the USA.
Recently Kenyan athlete Sally Kipyego attained American citizenship and the media is buzz whether she will represent the Trumpland in the upcoming competitions or remain loyal to Kenya? Kenya allows dual citizenship and under the International Association of Athletics Federations she can compete as an American citizen.
According to the Olympic Charter notes that “the Olympics are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries.
If we take the example of former Kenyan now Dutch runner Lornah Kiplagat, she has been successful in her career. Putting the sport first maybe difficult to accept especially when many athletes from developing nations are not coming from the same opportunities as the others. Thus, does this mean they are less patriotic? No, an athlete is only loyal to his sport, just like an artist is loyal to his craft.
In order for the countries to retain their talent, they must invest in their very own people, facilities and of course create the best possible environment for success. A country like Finland has earned over 300 medals since 1908, they may have the state of art facilities, but their talent pool differs from the competitions. You cannot have a complete Dream Team like the American Olympic team unless you take up the commitment, investment and sacrifice to make that the ultimate goal.
Whatever sport the country is talented in, for example athletics in the case of Kenya, the most innovation; investment and transparency must be made to uphold the values and talent growth. However, let this be the backbone of sports and it should trickle down to various other opportunities, for example basketball, hockey and more.