Australia’s Tall Poppy Syndrome ruins the Olympics: London 2012

06 Aug


Australia is currently sitting 24th in the Olympic medal tally with 1 gold, 12 silver and 7 bronze. We are behind Ethiopia, the Ukraine, and perhaps the cause of most angst is that we are behind New Zealand.

In particular, the weight of expectation for our swimmers was high. James Magnussen did not bring home the expected gold medal. He stated in post swim interviews that he did not sleep the night before his races. The expectations were clearly weighing him down, but I also wonder what impact the ban on Stillnox just before the Games rolled around had on James. Grant Hackett (ex-swimmer, now commentator) had been on a rampage in his own family home and after a tearful (staged) apology the revelation that he had been abusing the sleeping pills caused our Olympic officials to ban Stillnox. It is quite feasible that James and other swimmers were using it to help them sleep before meets – it’s advantage is that it is fast acting, and doesn’t have the hangover effects of some other sleeping tablets. We won’t find out from James though, he would have been told to keep the sleeping pill stuff under wraps. Maybe it will all come out some time in the distant future, if anyone still cares.

Emily Seebohm was widely critisised for crying after she won a silver medal. People were telling her to harden up and stop being a spoilt princess. This is a bit harsh against a backdrop where the media are constantly analysing our lack of gold.

Also, I wonder if anyone has stopped to look at how the end of the ‘super suit’ in swimming has corresponded with Australia’s demise as a swimming nation? It may be a case of how good rules can put a damper on the ‘arms race’ and make the playing field a little more equal.

Maybe it has all been magnified by the TV coverage. Naturally they set up to cover the sports that Australia was most likely to medal in, which meant that viewers were subjected to hours of swimming coverage, swimming repeats, swimming interviews, swimming commentary. We did win a gold, right at the start, but with the perceived lack of ‘success’, the viewers became uninterested and tetchy that they were missing the sailing, hockey and other sports.

Our track cycling team has not been slammed as hard as the swimmers, though Twitter has allowed a rider to snipe over selection in the first place. After the Track World Championships in Melbourne, a punter would pick Victoria Pendleton to come in over Anna Meares in the Keiren and the Sprint. We are yet to see what will happen in the sprint, but if Anna gets silver I will still be happy to watch the contest! The same with Jason Kenny vs Perkins in the sprint, it should be a good contest, and isn’t that what the Olympics are about?

I do like social media, following Australian diver Matthew Mitcham on Facebook (I added him during the Beijing Olympics), has been great – just look up his Ukelele videos on Youtube. The problem is that it gives all the knockers, the people who will take any excuse to cut down the tall poppies, a voice. On balance, I think Twitter has been detrimental to my experience of London 2012.

I am not going to read any more articles with ‘Twitter’ in the tagline, and I am certainly not going to read any more articles about ‘disaster’ and ‘disappointment’ and ‘misfiring’ and other things. I think we need to all sit back and enjoy the Olympics for what it is – a great sporting spectacle, and stop whining about our expectations not being met.

1 Comment

Posted by on August 6, 2012 in cycling, Olympics


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One response to “Australia’s Tall Poppy Syndrome ruins the Olympics: London 2012

  1. Nurse Frugal

    August 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    That must be a terrible feeling when you have so much expectation on you and you go online and read all the nasty things are saying. That kind of stuff must effect their performance.


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