No silver lining for some at Olympics athletes
MICHAEL GLEESON IN LONDON
OPINION: The Queen didn't smile in the opening ceremony but few have taken her lead. Her mirthlessness it seems is the only person left keeping a check on their emotions.
The very British "stiff upper lip" has fallen a quiver to the very wet lower lid in these weepy games. Scarcely can a camera pan a pool without finding chlorinated tears or the gymnastics without learning of the new routine, the tearful tumble.
It is all very understandable or course and, in part, not new, for the playing of even the most funereal of national anthems has long made winners weepy on the podium, but these games seem to have had a lot more I-just-want-to-crawl-under-my-duvet-and-not-come-out-for-four-years moments than most.
South Korea's fencer Shin Lam had one of the more dramatic meltdowns. Unbeknown to Lam an extra second was added to her bout and after she thought she had defeated her German opponent, victory turned to defeat when the German girl nipped inside and stuck her with the epee. Lam was inconsolable.
In the bizarre world of fencing she had to then sit out on the piste while an appeal was lodged and heard for if she left the piste the appeal was abandoned. Told you it was bizarre. As the frustrated slow-hand clap got louder the crowd was advised any appeal would only be valid if the Koreans came up with the money to fund one. Oh my. Corporate games indeed, who wouldn't cry? It's enough to make a person cry, which Lam did, but she was not alone. Eventually officials came out to move Lam on and she refused to budge. When they shifted her the tears really rolled.
Tears are what draw us in. Watching an athlete strain isn't proof enough of what it all means to them, we need to see some wet evidence. Emily Seebohm gave us that after her silver medal provided no silver lining to her lost gold on Monday night. There was nowhere to hide and the dam wall broke. Time is supposed to heal all wounds, but a night is not enough time for healing so the next day's press conference just brought it all back up again. You felt for her, you feel for all of them
Like British judoka Gemma Howell, who was in tears of disbelief at her disqualification at grabbing her opponents' leg and welled up. Or American gymnast John Orozco from the Bronx who realised, the minute his bum hit the ground not his feet, that his team medal had gone, or 17-year-old gymnast Jordyn Wieber who was eliminated purely on the basis that two competitors per country could advance and Wieber was the third ranked Yank. Years of work undone in that.
The painful burden of sacrifice that athletes ask of their families becomes crushingly apparent with the realisation there will not be a golden moment. Tamsin Hinchley had that overwhelming realisation on TV as she reflected on leaving her husband and son at home to pursue her dream.
We know all this because even if you aren't at the venue the TV cameras don't miss a tear. And jeepers there are a lot of them. But the cameras are no different to us, they focus in because we are perversely drawn to watch someone else lose it. It's why Master Chef always manages to have a few good sooks per episode.
Still I'd rather see a few tears than have to look at that chuckle head American Ryan Lochte with his 'look-at-me, look-at-me' diamond grille on his teeth again. Put it away sir, no one needs to see that. That was the gold medal for cringing 'American TV' moment at the games to date. Think I'll cry.
-Sydney Morning Herald