Australian Judo rep Ivo Dos Santos on living the Olympic dream
I remember watching Barcelona 92, that cauldron being lit with the archer’s arrow. In 4 days, I’ll be in an Olympic stadium myself, watching that cauldron being lit.
I’ll be surrounded by the best athletes on Earth, and (something I never thought would be true) I’ll be there as one of their peers, not a spectator.
It is bizarre how you can dream about a moment like that for so long (20 years!), and when you get there, you realise there’s something more you want.
So I am sitting here at Wolverhampton University (Australian Judo Team holding camp) and it has dawned on me that in less than a week I will have accomplished the dream I have had since I was a six year old boy.
For me, that is a medal.
I am the first to admit that I am an outsider and unlikely to figure too highly in many people’s medal guesses. But, guess what?
I will walk on that mat ranked #13 out of 36 in the 66kg category.
I really hope my rivals are superstitious because I have every intention of being a bad omen for them.
I’ve been lucky enough to do a few interviews and stuff in recent times and the same theme keeps coming up: “It’s so great just to be here”.
Whilst, yes, this is true, that is the furthest thing from my mind.
If you follow my Facebook page you would have noticed that I see this competition as a war and am treating it as such.
Some of the reasons I can’t ‘enjoy’ the moment right now are;
* There are 272 athletes on the World Ranking List in my weight class. That means there are 236 guys who would walk over hot coals to be where I am. I owe it to them to strive for MORE than participation.
* I owe it to my family, who have had to deal with me travelling the world, training every day and putting my life on hold for this dream. It isn’t their dream but they have all put their necks on the line for me at some stage.
* I owe it to my team mates and coaches. Judo isn’t Ballet (no offence). My team have quite literally been bruised, battered, slammed, pinned and choked, all for my benefit.
* Most importantly, I owe it to the six year old little boy who sat in front of the TV with his mouth wide open. I didn’t realise at the time, but the only way those athletes were in that stadium is because they never settled for ‘good enough’. Being there, watching the Opening Ceremony, was just a SMALL part of their dream.
* COMPETING is what they were there for, what had gotten them there, and what was driving them to be the best they could be on the ultimate stage, the Olympic Games
I am willing to accept whatever result comes next Sunday as long as I go out, compete, and give it everything I can. In my mind, there is no second chance.
I cannot and will not have that enter my mind.
I will end this post with a quote from Steve Prefontaine, one of the most inspirational athletes to ever walk this Earth;
“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.”