Sunday, February 19, 2006

Winning and Losing

From Wendy

Two full days at the Victorian Athletics Championships at the Melbourne Cricket Ground has kept our family busy with one athlete in the javelin events. It was a marathon for me as we walked miles around the stadium to get close to events, walked up and down about 800 steps and 2 k to and from the car park twice!

Andrew had won two Golds, two Silvers, and one Bronze in the Vic Champs in previous years but has had little time to train this year. Anyway, he did make the cut in the preliminaries and went into the finals today. The competition was good because the winner threw 78 metres and instead of just having local athletes there were entries from some of the Commonwealth Games athletes. So our lad did not win though with each throw he gained one metre! He talked about it afterwards and acknowledged that you can't rely upon strength but there needs to be so much focus on technique to make the jav really fly. This is a loner's sport and quite different from his other love, rugby with training at a nearby Eastern Park with lots of guys, including five Fijians.

We really enjoyed watching the Victoria Championships for two days at the MCG (a trial run for security, volunteers, information, timing, etc. for the Commonwealth Games). The venue looks terrific. Names and results are automatically on screens, and measurements are no longer with tape measures but done electronically. We saw sprint and middle-distance races, shot put, javelin, and relays. The shot-put winner threw 19 metres and he trains with a ballet group for technique! The crowd was a few thousand today but in three weeks there will probably be 80,000 or more there for the opening of the Commonwealth Games. We have tickets for the rugby sevens so far.

It was nice to see Jone Delai there with four young sprinters from Fiji. I watched two of the boys race, and one won his heat, but in the final the Australian sprinters are just so fast. Australia seems to be a country of fit young people (some of them are) with a climate that is suitable for lots of training, plus we are a society where many children do have the opportunity to develop skills in a chosen sport.

It's good to have models and heroes like Cathy Freeman and Michael Jordan, of course. Winning is nice, but it isn't everything. Having a go is important, and parents perhaps need to realize that each child has unique skills. There's nothing worse than watching some parents at a mini football match carrying on as if the world is on fire!

We brought up three sons and the sports they were into included swimming, tennis, Australian-rules football, athletics, basketball, baseball, etc. More lately touch rugby and rugby. They won scores of trophies. But… I think that the experience of failure, of not even coming half-way in a race, is a lesson in life too because it just ain't gonna always be easy in life!

As for myself, I played tennis and hockey as a teenager, but really preferred to read a book or draw and paint. These days I like to walk in an Otways forest, walk along a Torquay beach, but end up mainly trailing around the suburban streets. My other half plays golf four or more days a week and wins golf-balls or $10 vouchers. Each to his or her own.

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