We go to great lengths to celebrate our Olympic champions and medallists. We welcome them with cheering crowds at the airport, we honour them with parades in their hometowns, and of course our politicians send them messages to congratulate them for their accomplishments.
They become our heroes, their victories frozen in time and added to the pantheon of national achievement. But at the same time as celebrating their success, let’s spare a thought for the Olympic athletes who are returning home empty-handed, especially those who were favoured to win medals but for some reason didn’t. There’s a wide range of factors when some athletes don’t live up to expectations; sometimes we cruelly conclude that they simply choked under pressure, but it’s usually a lot more complicated than that.
It must be devastating after years of training to have your dreams vanquished, with the whole world watching. And it’s not like there’s another Olympics next week. For many athletes, this will be their only Olympic opportunity, and the disappointment will last a long time. We can’t take that away, but we can still show our support for not just the winners but those who didn’t reach the podium.