Stallie is back from Italy! She already has unpacked her suitcase, downloaded the pics, the laundry is done and she has given her 'precious' Italian souvenirs their rightful spot. David is now brighting up our kitchen. He might end up being a distraction while cooking the pasta al dente but then I will enjoy that view imensely while chopping up mozerella di buffelo or pouring some olive oil in a frying pan. The athletic posture this fellow puts on a show did took my breath away because once you see him he just gets under your skin. Gigantic fellow with visible atheletic superpowers.
What brings me at an other atheletic subject: the Olympic games. I had to miss the opening ceremony because I was already wandering in Firenze and drinking liters of water to keep up my level of fluids. I did try to follow a bit the headlines and yes it was nice to see these Italian water polo boys jumping into a pool and going after winning score.
Still I do not feel that optimistic for the moment when covering the Olympics. I even tend to call it rather dramatic games for the Belgians. Why? It seems that we just don't make the cutting edge! It just does not happen and yesterday even my Vigo had to retire before the end of the Olympic tournement! Well, because once more it does show so openly that sports in our nation just do not matter. We just seem not to be able to coach athletes. Let us face it! Our nation considers sport as a nice distraction. Not that I think that every kid with ADHD should become a Michael Phelps and not each kid has got the genes to become an athlete but Belgium just does lack the profiency on many levels to raise a generation that will be able to use their talents on the highest level.
We are just not cut out of that kind of wood and I am very sorry but the last 10 years nothing much has changed to track down talents and coach them seriously and with proficiency. In Belgium it still the brain training that matters most then breaking a European track record because you do need back up in case you fail or when you might brake a leg or fall without funding.
Plus be very fair, fellow country men and women we tend to treat most of the our sporty Belgians as a curiosity. When they openly call themselves good enough to go the distance we even tend to mock them openly. The weeks for the Olympics many people even wondered what we as nation were going to do in London. It seems as we are a bit ashamed of ourselves. Because let us face it we do not have someone as Usain Bolt (but know that running the 400m is still considered harder!) or gymnasts that can make your head spin wild.
It seems that we out there in the sports arena show also the rather insecure personality we carry along in our genes. Most of Belgians that tend to show excellence are tend to be called a bit 'awkward'or 'dikke nek'!. But is Belgium a 'good' spot on this blue planet to nurture their talents? Uhm, I tend to say...no.... I am so sorry. I am very proud of where I come from and I do cherish my heritage but we do fail when it comes down to sports.
Let us face the music that if our national delegation brings home 3 medals that this will be quite okay. We are not the USA (no basketball dream team because we did decide to even let out best field hockey player at home because 'she did not fit into the team') or we are not Team GB who did invest millions of pound sterling in their athletes to grant them their best four years of prep time (some of our athletes are still amateurs and believe me that even the army is involved in some nations to employ atheletes) and no we are defenitely not Russia or China that already has selected their best for the Olympics in the next decennium!
Is this something to be ashamed of? No, but perhaps to the ones who dare to go out there and enter the arena deserve a bit more attention once in while and the right after care. Lionel Cox might look as Mr Bean but the guy did face an total empty press conference hall before focussing and then scoring. Being an athelete in this nation is not very easy. And even if you manage to win an Olympic medal the after game is sometimes a bit...how should I put it...awkward.
Does anybody remember what happened to our Olympic medal winners after they brought home their medals? I do not consider it okay that someone like 'Fredje' Deburgraeve ended up being a shoe sales person and Annelies Bredael might have sold you a Vauxhall/Opel.
I also just read a personal comment of our big chief of Bloso who has got figured it out why our Dutch neighbours bring home so much more Olympic medals then we do. Turns out if we would be 8 cm taller and take some more risks out there in the sports arena then we might be able to bring more medals from Brazil! Rather mission impossible because the first one is linked to our genes and the second one..euh perhaps also.
It is so awkward that I even did predict this weekend that Evi would not manage to keep her first place in the regetta race and our Jumping team who for the moment is doing pretty okay is already announcing that a medal is almost out of reach because Vigo does not agree with the rather hard underground. The horse is about to retire and longs for long beach walks. 'We do not have two very good horses like other nations.' Nope, we don't but many of the horses that are competing out there are born in our tiny nation. We have just decided to sell them to the highest bidder.
Belgium is not a nation known for athletes! Even our so Miss Symphatico Kim Clijsters found it out after being denied a wild card for mixed doubles. You can bet that does sting! But that is who we are! But it is not easy having to face a total empty press hall when you would love to answer some intelligent questions about your sport once you made to the Olympic games. After all these ladies and gentlemen did pass the Olympic exam! They did face hours of hard training, of overcoming dissapointment, failure, winning, losing, injuries, pain, joy, etc and most of did this all by theirselves.
Many Belgian athletes face the loneliness out there! It is their faith and I guess that it does make them stronger. Competitive edge is not a word cut out for us! Many Belgian athletes have been so used at training and figuring it out on their own that if they get to the Olympics that we wonder how the got there. Practice, years and years of practice and feeling the passion for something that they truely love. But they combine it in most cases with a college study or a profession that they stay true amateurs.
Yes, Stallie did wonder as well if it wouldn't be better to invest my tax-money in research and education instead of sponsoring an Olympic athelete. It makes me who I am: deep inside I am also a very Flemisch and do I tend to forget to think a bit more positive. Yes, I am rather envious of Team GB who now wins the one medal after the other and I would love to see many of our Belgian athletes perform well. But in our present context we just seem having to settle for top 10 spots and perhaps one unexpected medal.
Stallie will keep on wearing proudly her red t-shirt she bought to support those Belgian olympic athletes. Just live the moment out there! And all other Olympic athletes that already having it made to London are also worth an extra hand of applause. In case you run, jump, ride, swim, row, cycle or make other olympic movements while coming across one of these modest Belgian athletes please smile,wave or even pinch them! Because chances are that they might think that they are still dreaming and forget to live the moment!! After all the emotions we get to witness while the Olympic flame is burning are unforgetable intense!
P.S.: by the time I did finish this entry our Belgian Evi Van Acker won the bronze medal in sailing. Very happy for her because 4 years ago this very bubbling personality did come back with some shattered Olympic dreams. And if you come to think of it does it take Usain Bolt about 9 seconds to win an Olympic race and Evi had to keep focused and find the right wind for her sails for about 9 long days. That does make it a completely different race! Congrats Evi!!! Way to sail to Olympic glory!
Click here for a very nice selection of pics take sometimes very close up! Enjoy!
And to play along with the pics one of the best Olympic sounds ever or at least in my humble personal opinion.