Poor Australia. They seem to be having a small national meltdown over the medal tally at the moment. There is so much talk among the media about their athletes "underachieving" and a lot of the athletes have had absolute meltdowns over silver or bronze medals. Contrast this to small countries like New Zealand or Grenada, who celebrate wildly when their athletes make it to the finals let alone a medal!
I think it's a wonderful thing to strive for excellence and to aim for gold, but the lovely parts of the Olympics are seeing the joy on the faces of those who achieve a personal best or break a national record, yet don't make the medal table. Or seeing genuine happiness for ANOTHER competitor who wins gold and the sportsmanship and camaraderie that is obvious among competitors. Our New Zealand swimmer who wept uncontrollably when she came fourth - tears of sheer joy that she had beaten her best time!
The Olympics are meant to encapsulate the values of our countries such as those that underpin the Olympic values. But they are also meant to be about national pride and achievement - with a bit of perspective and balance thrown in for good measure!
Perhaps Australia needs to re-examine what healthy competition looks like in schools rather than teaching that "nothing less than gold is good enough" (which it sounds like John Coates - the Australian Olympic boss wants.) He decided that the blame for the low-medal tally rests solely on schools for not providing enough sport for students. It reminds me of when Carl Lewis fired his coach, who dared to congratulate him for winning silver. His quote has bounced around for years, "Why would I want a SILVER medal? It just means that I am the fastest loser."
Our kids need to learn to be gracious in victory OR defeat. Perhaps that's the bigger lesson.