I initially started thinking about this post while I was watching Michael Phelps win his 22nd medal, and hearing him thank his mom followed by Greg Rutherford the British Olympic Long Jumper who thanks his mom for encouraging him towards pursuing his athletic career.
More and more as I looked I saw and heard athletes speak of their mothers and family support, Sir Chris Hoy lovingly acknowledging his wife Sarra and the images of his mom hiding her eyes while he performed in the Keirin to claim his 6th medal. Bradley Wiggins also mentioned his family foremost on his time trial win.
It got me thinking about Olympians and their support teams and our relationships and the roles we play in our children’s and spouses’ lives. It goes without saying that to be an Olympian requires significant dedication, soul searching and sacrifice on a long term basis, and probably the hardest part of all that, is that there is no guarantee, it is a risk. If the gamble pays off the rewards are huge, but if not, the pain and disappointment will leave one questioning the value of it all. Chris Hoy spoke of being the polished visible product at the top of the pile and mentioned the team that makes the pile and creates that product. And so with all I’ve heard and read the athletes say, it seems it takes more than just personal dedication and talent, it requires someone like a mom or wife to be there to carry, drive, feed, encourage and believe in you….and is that any different from the role any half decent mom plays in the life of her children. Perhaps though for Olympic mom’s there is less room for error, self-doubt in her mothering abilities and what she believes she is doing for her child. For sure there must be times where she questions if she is pushing too hard or perhaps not encouraging enough. There must be times where she to feels tired and exhausted and in need of a support team, but has to push past ‘the wall’. Having a talented child demands a certain level of extra sacrifice as does having a special needs child at the other end of the spectrum. I do love that so many of the top olympians so openly acknowledge their mom's though.
I will definitely revisit the subject of mothering, and Olympic parenting I haven’t even broached the Derek Redman story here, that deserves a post all of its own! but for now I want to salute team GB for their awesome achievements and I also want to salute the support teams, families and especially the mom’s and spouses of all the athletes who have no doubt played a significant part in making the British Olympic team the incredible success it has been.
An image from the BBC broadcast of the opening ceremony where the olympic rings were forged during part of it and raised above the stadium.