It’s been a day since the Olympic closing ceremony and I’m already having Kitty Chiller withdrawals. (Click to Tweet) So, here is a performance assessment of apparently – if we’re judging by the number of press conferences – the most important Australian in Rio during the past two weeks.
Firstly, the medal count of 29 (8 Gold) was well below what she had predicted. If only Kitty had revved up Cate Campbell more, and told her she “doesn’t really know what it means to be an Olympian”, it could’ve pricked her ego and she could’ve won more. It worked for Nick Kyrgios a couple of weeks ago.
Additionally, the disappointment of the basketball teams. Would things have been different had Kitty got Andrew Bogut to write a letter, Emma McKeon style, after the semi, explaining “that he now understands what he has done” when the Boomers lost to Serbia.
Perhaps if Kitty had given the pesky Bogut more of a clip around the ears, he wouldn’t have got fouled out in the bronze medal match.
To be seriousness though, let’s look at her style of leadership.
On arrival in Rio, Chiller complained about the rooms. While safety issues such as electrical wires are a genuine concern, is it really advantageous to publicly say the floors are “in need of a massive clean”, and term these rooms the worst she’s ever seen at the Olympics?
The only teams that I recall whingeing about creature comforts upon arrival are losing teams- think the English cricket teams during the 90s, and the humiliated English football team two years ago at the World Cup in Brazil. It perhaps unnerves athletes, and puts a target on their head in the minds of their opponents and, well, everyone.
Also, there’s the recent revelation that Kitty wishes to “confront” the Australian swimming team, after its unexpectedly mediocre (at least compared to expectation) results. For some reason, it reminded me of when Tony Abbott threatened to “shirt front” Vladimir Putin. Perhaps as both involve two leaders who were declining in popularity, posturing and publicly trying to save their own back.
In Kitty’s case, this could also have been done in house. Why not give the swimmers the chance to appreciate their dedication and achievements at the closing ceremony, instead of publicly humiliating them, and leaving a sour taste in their mouth as the games drew to a close?
One could reasonably deduce that she was trying to publicly exonerate herself and the AOC from responsibility for their results.
Additionally, did she need to be sitting there next to every gold medallist at their post win press conference? What point did that serve? Boris Becker doesn’t sit with Novak Djokovic in the press conference after he wins a slam. After all, it was Novak out there winning it.
Maybe, after the London debacle, the Australian team needed a Kitty Chiller-type figure. I have genuine admiration of her love and passion for the Olympics, and her desire to instil that into Australia’s Olympians. Further, dealing with 100s of athletes in a country in the middle of unease, is no simple task.
The fact that no major incidents involving an Australian – the ticket fiasco is common practice – occurred is a credit to her and the AOC. But, perhaps it’s taken Kitty to become a national punch line to realise that maybe we need to change our attitude to not only the Olympics, but sport in general in Australia.
Maybe rather than predictions, ridiculous expectations and bottom lines, we can just appreciate that a nation of 23 million can deliver 29 moments of inspiration, and be in the top 10 medal winners in the world. Surely that would be the ‘chiller’ way to take in this magical fortnight.