Tommy Wilson: Fiji triumph sums up Rio games

By Tommy Wilson

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CHAMPIONS: The Fiji Sevens team were gracious in accepting their gold medals from HRH Princess Anne. PHOTO / GETTY
CHAMPIONS: The Fiji Sevens team were gracious in accepting their gold medals from HRH Princess Anne. PHOTO / GETTY

I have always liked the legends of this long white cloud, especially those born from our sporting endeavours.

The picture they paint is one of having a go, not so much with winning in mind but giving it a good crack for others to follow them down the track.

Rio 2016 will add another leaf to these legends and the lessons and legacies left for our future generations is, in my opinion, beyond the glory of gold or any other-coloured medal.

Tommy Wilson. Photo/file
Tommy Wilson. Photo/file

It is interesting to note the feel-good factor - post disappointment of sevens and shot put - is for a lot of Kiwis all about backing the battler and the underdog who came good on the day. None more so than Fiji.

Fiji's win will mean so much for so many. When Baron de Coubertin came up with the concept for an Olympic logo in 1894, he chose the five circles to represent the five continents of the world. Now a special ring can be added for the battlers from little countries, for the underdogs and the refugees who represented them big-time in Rio.

Every year from here on in, a small country will stop once a day to remember their golden victory and their homecoming parade will have more kava flowing freely than a King's coronation - and why not when a tiny little island nation takes on the five continents of the world and wins.

I am sure Sonny Bill, who gave away his Rugby World Cup medal, would say: "Sweet as, bro, they needed it a lot more than I did." For me this is a true sporting legend of this long white cloud for our tamariki to follow.

Some will say we didn't bring home the bling of more gold medals because of injury or poor preparation, and there is a measure of reality to validate the invoice of disappointment being sent to the coaches of those who didn't fire at Rio.

For me it won't be so much about how we lost gold but how our hearts were won with the humility shown by the Valeries and Sonny Bills of our Olympic team.
Tommy Wilson

If this is true, then one of the key quotes of all time by an Olympic coach could have been preached and should be before Tokyo 2020.

"The key is not to have the will to win - everyone has that. The key is to have the will to prepare to win."

Yeah nah - maybe? From my couch it almost seemed we over-prepared and paid the price. To such a degree that we dry-cleaned out the very essence of raw talent responsible for getting our boys and girls to the world stage in the first place.

We as Kiwis have always known we can fly, we just needed to be reminded how. Not having our wings clipped by coaches who - unlike the coach of Fiji - were blinded by the bling of a medal.

Like a lot of Kiwis who have travelled to the other side of the world to watch the Olympics, my gold-medal moment was watching Eddie the Eagle at the 88 Summer Olympics in Calgary - Canada. He may have come last and could never win a medal even if it went down to tin for tenth, but Eddie won the hearts of the entire world with his can-do, give-it-a-go attitude.

The Olympic Games must not be an end in itself, it must be a means of creating a vast programme of physical education and sports competitions for all young people. To give it a go, just like Eddie, and the refugees competing in Rio.

Perhaps the best suggestion for bringing back the Games to the real world of humility and hope that Valerie and Sonny Bill have given us is to reinstate the Mums' race at the closing ceremony like we did as kids on sports days.

Long after Lydia has KO'd the opposition and Usain has bolted with more gold bling to dangle around his neck, what will our memories of Rio be?

For me it won't be so much about how we lost gold but how our hearts were won with the humility shown by the Valeries and Sonny Bills of our Olympic team. Sure I am a proud patriot of the medallists who whakapapa back to Tauranga, but I am equally proud of those who wear the badge of honour by being an Olympian. Hopefully this will inspire kai athletes to become tri athletes and couch potatoes to shed their skins of passive spectatorship, and gain a new warrant of fitness to kick-start a campaign for them to compete in Tokyo in 4 years' time?

It will be about the underdogs coming out on top when raw talent is taught to shine brighter than any gold medal.

- broblack@xtra.co.nz

Tommy Wilson is a best-selling author and local writer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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