To The Only Medal Winner Ms Roilya Ranaivosoa

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Was there really no-one from the Olympic Committee at the airport to garland you? Perhaps the MOC President was sulking because of remarks you’ve made but, if he’d told your group it had no chance of winning a medal, the only honourable solution was to greet you and apologise. You alone delivered the goods but apparently that’s not what matters. Most federations need a thorough sort-out but who can do it? Ministers can’t intervene or the IOC will accuse them of interference. Hoping for action from elsewhere is like expecting water 24/7 whilst the CWA is publically run.

 Dedication is the hallmark of top athletes, like top artists. They can be very demanding, even unreasonable, in what they expect, driven by the quest to succeed – and not by chauffeurs. Unfortunately, officials don’t appear to understand that they are nothing in themselves, that their role is to provide support rather than lust after air tickets, per diems and allegedly much else besides. Instead too many are self-serving, self-important and not terribly competent. They even make politicos look like angels, which takes some doing.

 In the ancient games there was no weight-lifting although long-jumpers carried weights to increase the length of their jumps. It was introduced in the first modern Olympic Games but only for men, until 1980. Even amongst the goddesses, we didn’t have any weight-lifters but we did have the Amazons. They’d certainly have been no less merciless than you in dealing with wayward hands. It might be tempting, if somewhat naughty, to let you loose on all the charlatans in the sports world but it’s doubtful if the health system could cope. Instead the government could bring in legislation to protect whistle-blowers before you get yourself arrested. Things could get pretty noisy but we shouldn’t forget that everyone, however apparently unsavoury, is innocent until proven otherwise. Trial through the media is even more obnoxious.

Even if the Olympics predominated in ancient times, the Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian Games were also major events, rather like the Commonwealth Games today. Participants came from all over the Greek world, including the Greek colonies…However, participants had to be fairly wealthy to meet all the expenses involved. Of course, the best athletes these days often have limited means and can only succeed if basic essentials like transportation costs and decent equipment and clothing are provided, but a good case shouldn’t be weakened. Your monthly allocation isn’t that bad and there’s no good reason why the state should provide parents with transport. Greek athletes ate raw sheep testicles to increase their physical strength; that might be cheaper than all your vitamins. Clothing costs weren’t a problem as athletes performed naked but, in these more prurient times, the religious right would suffer a mass heart attack. Now, there’s a thought…

 Perhaps that’s why the Ancient Greeks only allowed men to perform, although it would be surprising if the gods would really have been taken aback by the sight of women competitors. After all they used to fancy women just as much as men. Incidentally, Spartans would have understood better than most as their women were expected to be fit and to exercise regularly. The reasons for that might, however, seem somewhat sexist by modern-day standards, so I won’t go into details. Meanwhile, Mount Olympos now accepts that foreigners do things differently and, unlike some, adores successful athletes whoever they are – and can’t wait to see you smash the naysayers yet again.

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