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Coronavirus – An Olympian Financial Event

Olympics

 

We’re all participating in a major event at the moment. Indulge me, as I liken it to competing in the Olympics…

 

The planning…

Usually the Olympics takes years to plan and pull together successfully. This event has been pulled together in a matter of weeks. With information changing nearly on a daily basis. And the amount of information delivered in a short amount of time has been overwhelming! So it’s inevitable that some of the athletes will not feel prepared, some sponsors will feel frustrated, and some team mates will get overwhelmed.

The training …

I’ve been training for this my whole career. But this is the first Olympics that has been put together in such a small amount of time. It’s clear that we’re competing while they’re still building the stadium. There are potholes everywhere, dead ends where we need to work our way backwards, checkpoints with extra and contradictory rules to read, athletes running in a different direction leaving me feeling confused and alone, equipment not working, and coaches and officials swamped with questions.

The opening ceremony…

There was much anticipation with the Opening Ceremony. Some arrived early and tried out the track. I waited and got overwhelmed by the crowd. Looking up I could see so many hopeful faces looking down at me, pinning their hopes on my achievements, hoping that I’ve trained enough and was going to come home with gold. I have a little panic, trip on my flag and scrape my knee. As a sit on the ground contemplating whether I’m up for this, a teammate is there to help me up and dust me off.

The competition…

After a bumpy start to the competition, I put my headphones on and try to block out all the noise of the crowd. Some of my teammates are stumbling and I reach my hand out to pull them along. As I stumble, they do the same for me.

The coaches…

Our coaches are on the sidelines cheering us on, trying their best to get new information to us as it becomes available. And then help us interpret it – honestly, some of the rules have been written in another language that only the most seasoned of athletes can understand!

The officials…

I pay a visit to the officials. I wait at their tent for what seems like an eternity, only to have somebody cut into the line and push me to the back. That was frustrating! Eventually when I get to the front of the line I speak with a very helpful official, who was also feeling the pressure, but got my issues sorted – for now.

The paperwork…

There is a lot of paperwork involved – waivers, releases and such. If I don’t have all the correct paperwork in place I might turn up at the wrong event, or the officials can disqualify me and boot out my sponsors. It’s a terrifying thought after I’ve put so much training in, and my sponsors are relying on me so heavily. But I’m working with my coaches and teammates to make sure I have everything I need, and a plan for when different things need to be implemented. It’s a lot to remember!

The olympic village…

The Olympic village is different this year. My kids are with me, trying their best to do their school work remotely, and my teammates and coaches are all in separate rooms. We can see each other on the track, but not being able to come together at the end of the day and share our stories, pat each other on the back, and share a meal together – it’s lonely and eerily quiet.

The expectations…

Some sponsors are having trouble paying and there are high expectations that I compete anyway. Many have expressed how grateful they are for all the training and effort I’m putting in. Others are pushing me harder than ever, not understanding the limits to how high I can jump, heavy I can lift, or fast I can run. They seem to have no comprehension of the amount of hours of unpaid training, restless nights, and personal sacrifices I’ve made to be here. But I’m here because it’s something I’m passionate about, and the last thing I want to do it let down my sponsors or my teammates. But I also need to make sure I take care of myself. So it’s a balancing act for now.

The cheats…

I’ve always been one to play by the rules. At this event there are some athletes who are clearly cheating so their sponsors can get more exposure. This is unfair to the athletes and sponsors who have been training hard, following the rules, and doing the right thing. Some are cheating and taking the gold medal for themselves when it should really go to somebody else. But after the dust settles there will be consequences – financial penalties and disqualifications, maybe even naming and shaming. Luckily most athletes and sponsors understand the sacrifices many have made to get here, and are here with the intended spirit.

The uncertainly…

As I look out at the Olympic grounds I see high jumps that seem impossibly high, long jumps that stretch out forever, hurdles that look like they could blow over in a gentle breeze, swimming pools with a rough current when they should be calm, a cycling track full of potholes, a hammer that looks too heavy to pick up let alone throw it, and the javelin just looks scary and sharp and I’m scared I’m going to stab myself in the foot with it!

The supporters…

But as I take a deep and calming breath, look to my coaches, teammates, family, sponsors and supporters, who are all cheering me on from the sidelines, I close my eyes and inhale deeply. I’ve trained for this. I can do this. Yes, it will be hard and scary, and I might even stumble and fall. But I’ll pick myself up and cross the finish line anyway.

The closing ceremony…

And then as quickly as it began, it will be over. The closing ceremony will be like no other. There will be new athletes and sponsors emerging. Those of us feeling race weary will take a couple of days to recover, and then be back stronger and fitter than ever. We’ll have some stories to share for many years to come. We’ll learn from this experience and be ready to meet our next challenge with a sense of connection like never before.