The Olympic Games showcases the very best in sport where athletes, in the spirit of the Games and mindful of the ethos of the Games, strive to go faster, higher and stronger than their fellow competitors.
One thing that appears to escape many is that just to qualify for the Olympics puts an athlete amongst the “crème de la crème” of sport. Being an Olympian is something special that only a tiny percentage of the world’s population have savoured .... and in each and every country the Olympians become role models for young sportsmen and sportswomen.
That’s why it is so sad when some – a very small minority – are caught cheating by taking performance enhancers or even the old stories of marathon runners who sneaked a lift along the road or took a short cut!
But I am more interested in the wonderful role models and these include the top officials and umpires or referees. It is these people who have also reached the pinnacle of their endeavours - who provide inspiration for the youth of today to follow in their paths and improve records or standards. These beacons can light the path for sports federations and attract youngsters to the respective sports - vital in sustaining sports development and inculcating the right values amongst our youth.
One thing that really bothers me is when I hear people focus purely on medal contenders and forget that just qualifying for the Olympic Games is a massive achievement, the culmination of thousands of hours of training, sacrifices and enormous discipline. Competing fairly and squarely on this ultimate world stage is the dream of so many young athletes and participating as a top technical official or umpire is also crucial for the perpetuation of the Olympic Sports. We expect the very highest standards of officiating from the technical officials and the vast majority are volunteers who have also made enormous sacrifices and worked exceptionally hard to reach their “Everest”. We should salute these incredible people.
The Olympic 4 year cycle is sometimes regarded as a watershed and we often see the changing of personnel, rules and regulations for the next cycle. It is almost a natural sporting evolution as we set goals for the next Games.
At the same time we need to refine the best features of the wonderful game of hockey and constantly enhance them whilst being willing to discard unnecessary elements of our game that detract from it as a spectacle.
Hockey is a fantastic Olympic Sport – a game of speed, incredible skill, excitement and true sportsmanship and which has been in the Olympics since 1908.
I am very hopeful that the London Olympics will see hockey strengthen its position in the Olympic family as packed, appreciative crowds watch the finest players of this generation do battle on the royal blue and pink Olympic Hockey Stadium - it will be a spectacle fit for The Queen!
Steve Japsan is a former FIH Executive Board Member and contribues a monthly column, Viewpoint
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