It is not everyone who gets to be godmother to an Olympian and guess what yup, I’m one of a rather select bunch. Actually if truth be told, I have the privilege of being Aunty to a splendid collection of talented and genuinely lovely people, who have a wide variety of gifts and positive attributes. To list them all in the one blog would appear just too much like gratuitous boasting and I’m saving them for future blogging material. I am also limited by time constraints as my own bunch need feeding soon. So back to being an ‘Olympic Godmother’……you see this blog is really all about me and Olympians albeit that they are blood relations only get cameo roles!!
There are many benefits to being godmother to an Olympian. First off, there are the bragging rights, which I claim a huge share of, without ever, over the years having had to participate in the crack of dawn ferrying to pools for training. Swim hats off to parents everywhere who are far less lazy than I. Or indeed, I have never had to travel the length and breadth of the country and spend interminable hours sitting poolside, in what can only be described as some weird sauna like atmosphere. An atmosphere which I’m sure is replicated as some form of obscure torture in an alternate universe. As anyone who has a competitive swimmer in the family will testify, you could lose a few pounds in sweat, poolside just as a spectator. I imagine it is not a great place to be if you’re prone to the odd menopausal hot flush. As for the seats, after twenty minutes on them, they become octopi like suction capsules and it is very hard to disengage from them with any degree of grace, poise or absence of farting noises.
Secondly, I got to view the RIO2016 Olympics with a real vested interest which let me tell you brought the engagement and excitement levels off the radar. I had a heightened awareness and appreciation of the efforts all of Team Ireland had made to get where they were. Given that the decibel levels of my vocal contribution of support whilst watching any sport, gives my family cause for complaint at the best of times, it doesn’t require much imagination to believe that my hollering during Nick’s heat actually caused ripples in the pool in Rio. Then in just over two minutes the swim is over and what a glorious heat winning swim it was, but just not fast enough this time, to get the second swim. Thus it is so for athletes all over the world. There are those who just miss out on qualification times in their chosen sport by the narrowest of margins. A cold, a bad night’s sleep, a dip in confidence or a stubbed toe can all stall a dream. There are such a myriad of things that have to go right, have to come together at exactly the right time, to give one a chance to reap the rewards of all those long hours of training day in and day out. At this level of sport, whatever sport that may be, deserving has nothing to do with it at all. I have such great admiration for anyone who is prepared to take that risk. I am in awe of the discipline and focus required to keep at it and the mental tenacity involved in always turning up. The courage required to participate in any competitive sport be it at school, local, county, national or international level is laudable. It is so admirable because the resilience required to accept failure, defeat or the disappointment of under performing on a given day takes a lot of building up. I have my gripes about organised competitive sport and the organisations that run them, I despair sometimes of how off putting it can be for a wide spectrum of children and adults to develop a sporting facet to their life, but those gripes are for another day. Today, I salute anyone who takes the risk and competes and I doubly salute the back room team of parents, coaches & family who provide the vital support and encouragement along the way.
This weekend just gone, I had the pleasure of seeing Nick swimming in home waters at the National Championships in Dublin. It wasn’t quite Rio but it still gave me such a buzz to see him adding the 200m breaststroke national title to the 100m title he had won earlier in the meet. It was nearly a year to the day since he had got his Olympic qualification time in Eindhoven. Although there were no PB’s posted for him this weekend, it was a thrill to see him cut through the pool with an elegance and speed that makes it look like his own effortless dance with the water. Yes I was a boisterous,loud mouthed supporter on the sidelines, giving myself heart palpitations, in the fantastic company of some of my family. Well it is the least I can do, as I have circulated the rumour that I bought him his first pair of armbands and to top it all I got to give him a hug.