So, you’ve just flushed four years down the toilet
It’s the interview they don’t want to give. The question they don’t want to ask. The answer so bleedingly obvious that the entire conversation is merely a collection of predictably rehearsed statements.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is all fun and games when the Olympic commentator asks the lovely Anna Meares how wonderful it feels to out-pedal a Pom in her own velodrome. But that doesn’t happen often. For every winner there are about 20 also-rans.
The brave young journo approaches, armed with but a microphone, and he’s completely aware that this awkward encounter could in fact result in a black eye and some reconstructive dental work. This part of his job requires danger money.
A shattered athlete has just strenuously and painstakingly piled a career, four years and whatever else remained of a life spent as a rented mule, all into one race. His solitary basket of eggs has been dropped. He’s an Australian of course. So if he wins, he’s a king. But he lost, so, you know. Please go over there, away from me and the sponsors.
With defeat secured, quite away from the podium, a philosopher is born. The start was crap; the food was poisoned or the stomach was bugged; the referee cocked it up and, as if all at once, the ball just bounced in the wrong direction. ‘Twas the jetlag that did it.
Win she just didn’t. A silver. A Bronze. Or anything at all. Elimination beckons and the only consolation for a certain over-funded AIS brat, draped in the presumptuous gold lycra, is the prospect of an early night on the grog to lament.
These London Olympics seem to be as much about failure as they are success. Australia’s sailors are sailing, some winners are winning and, by Allah, the world must be wonderful place when a Saudi female is actually allowed to compete in a race. But behind our flying spinnakers lay some degree of morbidity.
Mr Steffensen has been strangely silent of late and no matter which way you cut it, this commentator still has to ask an excruciating question at the most awkward of moments. It’s like watching the vet put your favourite animal down. Over and over again. The damage often already being done by the time you’ve lunged for the remote.
“Ahem. Excuse me. Over here. Mate! How ya feeling? How’d it go out there?” asks the sympathetic bloke in charge of the mike.
“How do you think it f$@#in’ went!?” prompt the horrified witnesses to the unfolding public death of an athlete.
After all that training, ‘It’ is just doing well to not crack. ‘It’ probably needs a rest. ‘It’ is surely no longer human anymore and ‘It’ is probably just yesterday’s object of national gratification.
To be embraced in success and exiled in failure. But this continent of 20 million-odd turkeys doesn’t seem to care if you’re in the 0.001 per cent of the specially-selected and physically-elite.
Because you lost. And here comes that stupid question…