FROM THE RECTOR
THE IMPACT OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES
To the Salesian College Family,
With the 2020 Olympic Games finally completed in 2021, it seems most appropriate to reflect upon this significant global event and its effect on us all.
To begin with, I believe that the Games have given the people of Australia a massive dose of joy, good cheer and self-esteem during the very challenging days of lockdown and restriction that we have been enduring for so long.
Our swimmers, sailors, canoeists and rowers have been outstanding; our skateboarders, BMX freestylers, beach volleyballers, horse riders and hockey players have been brilliant; and our athletes, cyclists, surfers, divers, boxers, basketballers, footballers and many others have given their all. More importantly, they have all brought a smile to our faces and a lift to our spirits during these very demanding Covid times.
Yet some have stood out more than others, and for differing reasons. Firstly, there was 62-year-old Andrew Hoy, our legendary equestrian, who won silver and bronze medals in his 8TH Olympics. Then there was Sinead Diver, our 44-year-old Irish-born mum, who ‘flew home’ in the Women’s Marathon to finish in tenth position. There were our beloved Boomers, led by indigenous legend Patty Mills, who finally won an Olympic medal in basketball after decades of trying. There was Peter Bol and a large troupe of up-and-coming track and field athletes who will be shining lights for years to come. There was Jessica Fox who deservedly landed her long-awaited gold medal in the Canoe Slalom after so many Olympic disappointments. And finally, there was a host of ‘young guns’ – among them Keegan Palmer, Logan Martin, Ariarne Titmus, Nicola McDermott, Kaylee McKeown and Ash Moloney – who, together with so many youngsters from other countries, have transformed the very fabric of the Olympics as never before!
However, it is most important not just to dwell on Australia’s achievements during these Games, but to warmly acknowledge the admirable efforts and accomplishments of many other nations that competed at Tokyo in true Olympic spirit. In this respect, I refer not only to the traditional Olympic heavyweights such as the United States of America, China, Japan, Great Britain, Russia and many of the powerful European countries, but also to other so-called ‘lesser lights’ who ‘punched above their weight’.
For instance, we should be aware that New Zealand, our next-door neighbour across the Tasman, achieved 7 gold, 6 silver and 7 bronze medals with a population of only 5 million people; that Fiji, another of our Pacific neighbours, won gold in the men’s rugby sevens and bronze in the women’s rugby sevens; that Hong Kong, despite its current political struggles, won 6 medals; and that tiny San Marino, one of the smallest countries in the world in both area and population, won three medals – the first three medals in its history! The list could go on and on.
In summary, it is very clear that the Tokyo Olympics have had a dramatic impact on the people of Australia and the citizens of so many nations in the world:
- For they have given us a positive self-image and a renewed confidence in ourselves despite the effects of the current pandemic.
- By highlighting the abilities and achievements of our Olympians, they have reminded us all of the unique gifts and talents that we all possess.
- By focussing on the hardships and struggles that our representatives have gone through, they have underlined the need to approach our own difficulties and adversities with courage and resilience.
- In emphasising the value of hard work, systematic training and thorough preparation among the athletes, they have recommended to all of us the need for constant resolve, determination and effort.
- In openly demonstrating the notable and noble accomplishments of so many of our fellow nations, surely they have exhorted us to have a greater interest in our fellow human beings and a stronger commitment to their welfare and happiness.
- And, in celebrating the successes and capabilities of younger athletes in sports loved by the younger generation, I believe that the Olympics have issued a clear message that young people must be valued and acknowledged for who they are and for the goodness and worth that they possess – and what a great lesson that is for the wonderful young people of Salesian College Chadstone!
Finally, as with all Olympics, the Tokyo Olympic Games of 2020 – 2021 have strongly reinforced the ‘Olympic Creed’ which was introduced by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Modern Olympics, in 1924:
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
Let us take the words of this Creed to heart as we take our place in the arena and pursue our journey of life in these very difficult days. And may God, who is our Father, Guide and Helper, always be there for us and with us on our way.
In Don Bosco,
Fr Greg Chambers