D’Arcy’s crimes against Tom, Sam and Sally
Australian butterfly champion Nick D’Arcy swims. AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Controversial swimmer Nick D’Arcy is an albatross around the neck of the Australian Olympic Committee and will derail any chance they have of enjoying a happy, good news London Olympics.
Have you been reading about the Olympics in the past few weeks? Great! Then you would have heard some terrific news!
Was it tall, tanned, well spoken, good looking and impossibly talented young sailor Tom Slingsby? Last weekend he dominated a key pre-Olympic lead up race in his event, the Laser Radial. No?
Was it Sam Willoughby. This tall, tanned, well spoken, good looking and astonishingly talented young BMX rider crushed the competition to win a thrilling World Championships, a key pre-Olympic lead up event. No?
Then it must have been Sally Pearson. Tall, Tanned, well spoken, good looking and amazingly talented, she has barely lost a race since her shock silver medal in Beijing and is as close to a sure thing as Australia has.
Let’s not kid ourselves, you have been reading and talking about Nick D’Arcy and the huge blow up over his gun photos with teammate Kenrick Monk. You may have thought it was disgusting, or you may have felt it was just a couple of young blokes having a photo and nothing to get worked up about.
Regardless of what you thought, you will get many, many more chances to make judgements about Mr D’Arcy in the next two months.
There is an enormous block of Australians who are sickened that this sneaky, unrepentant criminal will be wearing green and gold in August and possibly winning a medal, while our anthem is played.
At the same time, there is decent block who feel he just stood up against a pest who is now crying like a wuss and should toughen up.
Just like the incessant blathering on this website about the NRL and AFL, neither side is interested in listening to the other and masochistically seeks every opportunity to screech at each other.
Any time there is a story on him, people read it or watch it. And if there is one thing the print and TV media want to do, it is to get more eyeballs on their product. The more eyeballs, the more they can charge to advertise to them.
For the AOC, this is a nightmare. Any good news stories they have about talented, young athletes preparing for the games, or even doing well at the games, will be completely drowned out by the outcry when D’Arcy appears in a tracksuit with the pants too low.
Not that you feel too sorry for them, they have had four years to work out what to do with Nick D’Arcy and have ended up sticking their head in the sand and hoping he would go away.
This situation is also a result of the change in conditions for elite Olympic athletes
A generation ago, Olympic athletes could not afford to train full time. Dean Lukin was a fisherman/weightlifting gold medallist. Steve Moneghetti would teach maths at a Ballarat High School before thundering around the local bush trails.
D’Arcy has a job too. He gets up, trains, eats, visits LA gun shops and goes to bed.
Previously, there was a real sense of appreciation for the sacrifice these athletes were making. They were working, cooking, commuting, living a life just like us, but while we collapsed on the couch with ice cream watching rubbish TV at the end of the day, that was the point they started training.
While there will be many athletes in London still in this same boat, we now have a new class of professional Olympic athletes. We pay them to attend elite sporting academies where they train. Train incredibly hard mind you, but it changes the dynamic in our minds.
They are winning more gold medals then we did back then, but the public has less admiration for their sacrifice and has started to place upon them more expectations.
Regardless, the Australian Olympic Committee spends three and half years out of every four in virtual anonymity, with one brief glorious period of enormous public interest to capitalise on.
Unfortunately for them, most of this will now be Nick D’Arcy, crooked weightlifters, mutinous rowers and (as usual) ridiculously harsh athletics and triathlon selections.
The big losers? Our quiet, uncontroversial and quite brilliant champions like Tom Slingsby, Sam Willougby and Sally Person.
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