Too Much Pressure?

Mar 1, 2010
by: kberg


In the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, each athlete comes in with their team to represent their nation, but in the closing ceremonies the athletes come in together as one.  This represents that

 "No longer grouped by nation but all together in one nation of athletes." - Wall Street Journal

I like the idea that athletes enter from different cultures, backgrounds, and languages and leave with the common ground of being athletes doing a sport that they love.  However, I don't know that I believe that all these athletes leave as just one nation.  In the Olympics there is so much emphasis on the medal count and the rivalries between countries, that it puts too much pressure on athletes.  Athletes already put enough pressure on themselves that they should be winning a gold for themselves not to please their country.  For Kim Yu-Na who is a superstar in Korea for her talent in figure skating, the pressure to win a medal was extreme.

"If she won the silver or bronze medal, many Koreans would encourage or console her. However, if she can’t receive any medal, there will be a strong backlash," said Lee Chang-sik, an expert on sports marketing at the South Korea communications firm KPR & Associates

Kim Yu-Na who is only 19 had a huge responsibility to her country and luckily she received not only a medal, but the gold medal at the Olympics.  Yu-Na's biggest competition Japan's Mao Asada who received silver was under similar pressure even before she made it to the Olympics.

If Asada fails to qualify for the Olympics, she’ll lose her appointment as symbol athlete, and thereby incur a substantial loss from the perspective of the Japan Skating Federation. - "Mao Asada's slump in skating affects businesses"

Another rivalry that has had long history with the sport of cross country skiing is between Norway and Sweden.  Norwegians feel that they invented the sport, while Swedes feel like they perfected.  While I was watching the Olympics, the commentators constantly talked about how the biggest disappointment is losing, but more importantly losing to Sweden.

"The best a Norwegian can do is beat the Swede. But to beat the Swede in Sweden is even better." Rivals: Norway-Sweden

Competition is the best part of the Olympics and is what makes it so exciting and interesting to watch.  The desire and passion of the sport that these athletes compete in is inspiring, but we need to remind ourselves that they are human like any one of us.  Everyone makes mistakes and just because our country doesn't win a medal in every event does not mean that we shouldn't be proud and inspired for other nations athletes accomplishments.