Well the men's 100m finals was completed yesterday and I'm a little disappointed at the showing by the Caribbean men. I was hoping for more from Kim, Asafa and Oba. Well to tell the truth I wasn't really expecting much more from Oba given his injuries in the past few years and the fact that he just seems to be lacking that competitive drive in that event these days but I was really expecting a lot from Asafa and Kim. Oh well, every day doesn't break the same and like I said yesterday, you just cant disrespect these guys because to make the Olympics and to go to the finals in an event like the 100m is an honor and takes much hard work, dedication and sacrifice..
But all this Olympic talk has really got me thinking about something I used to spend a lot of time thinking about years ago. What happens after the Olympics are finished? What happens after you've had your one moment in time where you are racing with destiny to quote Whitney? What happens to athletes after they retire? Well not exactly that but what happens to persons who achieve so much at a young age and then move on? Can they move on? What if your best days are behind you so early on in life ...at least according to public perception?
What is your life like, if the perception is that you have passed your peak and it happens at an early age? You have had that one glorious achievement of your lifetime, you can climb no higher and its downhill from there. What is that like?
I think about that because of the young age of most of these Olympians. The gymnasts are mostly teenagers, Michael Phelps the swimmer is 19, the men's 100m winner is 22, Oba is 28 and he's thinking of retiring. The only one battling the age wall that exists with athletes with any success is Merlene Ottey who bravely shows she is still not giving up at 44 years old. Why is that? Is it because without athletics her life is incomplete or it will seem like an amazing phase of her life is over and she is trying not to give that up? Ignoring her case though what happens to these young persons after they have reached a pinnacle at the Olympics?
Well at least with athletes there is a tangible way to tell that you have peaked or achieved the best you can achieve when you've won a medal or broken a record but what about the average man on the street? How does he know that he has hit his peak and its all downhill from here? How does he know his best days are past? Have I hit my peak already? Are my best days past and I don't know? Have your passed?
And how does one embrace this concept that their best days are past? How do you climb down from your Mount Everest at 22 or 28 or 32 or 35 with many more years of living to go?
I guess its not really that simple because athletes may not think they have peaked after they medal or break a record. They will still be striving to break others as time go on. But what happens when they retire from the sport? By then they know their best sporting days are over. I guess you can strive to peak in other endeavors but suppose you never reach that level of accomplishment in those endeavors then your best days are actually behind you after sports. Imagine that! 22 or 28 and you have peaked. Isn't that kind of scary?
Politicians go on till they are old and gray, so too businessmen but athletes peak early. Maybe athletes can go into business or politics and try peaking in that too.
Do you give up after peaking? Is it like some memory in the distance as time goes on as you reminisce about when you had that golden moment and you wish that it could happen again. Are you sad after its all over and you look back thinking what more can I achieve now, I'll never be back to being this good at anything?
That's pretty depressing isn't it.