I recently wrote about how the London Olympics had got me thinking about sports I could take up, and how the idea of throwing the discus in sequinned platform boots appealed. In this article I want to talk about something similar that happened after Sydney 2000…
I watched the 2002 Winter Olympics, and was drawn in by the sport of curling, watching the GB women take gold, and after watching it again at the 2006 Games I found that England’s only curling rink was only 35 miles away!
I took up the sport and fell in love with playing it, although any Olympic hopes were soon dashed – partly by the politics of the sport, and partly because I am not much good at it (and that‘s the polite way of saying it!)
It does tend to happen during an Olympics, winter or summer, that I want to be involved, I want to have some of that passion so clearly on display. So, let’s go back to 2000…
The women’s pole vault.
It was making its’ debut in the Olympics, hard to believe I know, but it had previously been considered unsafe for women. Stacy Dragila took gold, with a young Russian called Yelena Isinbayeva failing to make it out of the qualifying round.
Isinbayeva would go on to dominate the event for years, and that was something that had always puzzled me in the men’s event – how could one person be so dominant in an event that was a combination of strength and technique?
With the men it was Sergey Bubka, but surely the strength could be built up, and the technique could be developed? It wasn’t even as if no-one knew Bubka’s technique, which centred around where he held the pole.
I decided after watching the women in 2000 that I would have a go. Yes, I was 34 at the time, but age is just a number, right?
So, I rang up the local athletics club and found out that they had a pole vault session coming up. I asked if I could come along, and got a puzzled sounding ‘ok then’ in response.
I turned up on the day, and after the coach had got over the fact that I wasn’t one of the parents, we got down to business with the rest of the 13 year olds.
We did some starting exercises, one of which included pelting down the track with the pole and seeing what happened. Not exactly elite sports science I know, but I was amazed at what the coach told me next…
I had cleared a height of 2 metres, which was ok, except that the British record at the time was 2.37…for the HIGH JUMP!
The coach told me that I was now in the top 20% of pole vaulters in the county, because most people were too scared to even take off! I wasn’t sure if I supposed to giggle at that or not, but I didn’t giggle at his next bombshell…
He told me that the pole vault was only done once a month. Once a month? The elite athletes would be training for hours a day, but I would be looking at a few hours a month.
I think I knew deep down that my career at the pole vault would probably stop at 2.00 metres, because such little training opportunity would not really be enough for a 13 year old, let alone a 34 year old beginner.
As I watched London 2012, I did wonder what might have been had I kept it up, I could have had 12 years of training under my belt, although once a month over 12 years probably adds up to a couple of weeks for the elite athletes.
Oh well, I had tried it.
I have to be honest, there are a couple of events pulling at my ‘have to try’ heart strings after London 2012, and it may well be that the pole vault may yet have company on my list of tried sports ( I’ll leave the long jump story for another time)
Is there something you want to try? Something that others tell you is just ridiculous? Or maybe it’s something you tell yourself is ridiculous? Well, here’s an idea – do what I did!
Don’t listen to others, ignore yourself for a while too, and go out and try it! You may well find, like I did with the pole vault, that you were right all along, and that it was a touch on the silly side, but you’ll know you went out and actually found out for yourself.
The tagline of London 2012 was ‘inspire a generation’ – it didn’t say which generation, did it!
ok, til next time,
Health & happiness,
P.S. If you enjoyed this article, type ‘Olympics’ into the search box at the top right to read my other Olympics articles. You might also enjoy my motivational book on Kindle ‘Transform Your Life in 21 Days!’, described as ‘a joy to read’