The Olympic non-selection blues

20:17, Jul 22 2012

The Olympics always leave me with a certain sadness. The kind one gets from watching rather than participating in a great party.

I've been left off the invitation list at plenty of functions but this is getting silly. It's now nine Olympics in a row I have missed out on the New Zealand team. I can no longer blame the selectors. The pain of rejection is inescapable, as is the cold reality I have little or no sporting talent.

There are other New Zealand Olympic teams I have missed out on. I have been at TVNZ for 10 years and have never made their Games squad.

Four years ago I got close. I got to Auckland Airport. Problem was that while half the company was heading off for two weeks of wontons and a wonderful time in Beijing, I was doing a story on a new hand- drier in the airport's toilets.

It's no joke. I actually did a story on the national news about a hand drier in a toilet. It's as far from the Olympics as you can get.

Life hasn't always been this depressing. For the first 11 years of my life I was certain I was going to one day blaze around a rubber running track in a black singlet with a silver fern on my chest and a thick but trim moustache perched above my upper lip. I wanted a mo just like my dad's. He was a runner too and had an awesome three-stripe tracksuit in black and white. It just needed a silver fern.


At that age it was crystal clear, really. The Olympics weren't a far away dream, they were an inevitability. I had won the school cross-country six years running and was convinced I was probably the fastest runner in all of Gore, if not the planet.

By high school, Aaron Wright had beaten me three years in a row and, like any good athlete, I refocused my goals. I was going to make the New Zealand cricket team. Unlike the running, this was going to happen.

It's now been 20-odd years I've been overlooked by the New Zealand cricket team. They aren't doing that well without me.

I'm 36 now. I realise I may never represent my country at anything. I'm becoming OK with this. You learn to savour more moderate successes.

My cricket team won the second grade Taranaki title this past summer.

For one glorious sun- drenched afternoon we got to play and win on Pukekura Park in New Plymouth.

It's one of the world's top six cricket grounds, says a stuffy English cricket magazine.

I don't even think our win made the local paper but it didn't matter to us. For 11 middle-aged has-beens it was our moment of glory. We got our photo taken, drank too much and discussed how we were going to do it all again next summer.

They say you can learn a lot from losing but I reckon winning is still way more fun.

The Sky man came today to get us hooked up for the Olympics. I can't wait.

Sure, there will be the odd pang of regret but not everyone can be an Olympian. It'll take time but I think one day I'll be OK with that.

I probably couldn't grow a suitable moustache anyway - and the tracksuits these days aren't nearly as cool.

Hadyn Jones is a journalist and frustrated Olympian. He writes a fortnightly column.

The Dominion Post