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Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Olympians, when the limelight fades

This posting is a slight deviation from the regular postings on beating the struggle to get fit and stay healthy. But, I couldn’t resist the temptation to offer my reflections on the Olympics held in London, the place I’ve worked in for the last 20 plus years.

The Olympics held in London was no doubt a massive success for the athletes, volunteers and organisers. Anyone who worked on the Olympics should be congratulated on working on mammoth task demanding great organisation and presentation skills. I offer my congratulations too.

One question that’s always played on my mind whenever the Olympics are held, is whether the sacrifice from the athletes, coaches and families involved is really worth it?

The question probably assuages any guilty feelings I have from not really pushing hard to beat the struggle to get fit.

But, other than the gold and silver medal winners who may get lucrative sponsorship deals during or immediately after the games, what happens to them after when the spotlight of the media goes dim? And, their pictures no longer grab the front pages of newspapers worldwide or beamed into millions of homes. Do they remain household names for the months and years after their spectacular achievements?

I decided to do a little research on what became of a couple of gold medal winners from the Beijing Olympics.

Ryu Seung-Min (born August 5, 1982 in Seoul, South Korea) a Korean table tennis player, won the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in the men's singles competition.

There are few references to Ryu on the web. Ryu’s fame appears limited to table tennis circles. Earnings for professional table tennis players rarely get to six figures and they don’t become house hold names.

How about weightlifting? The gold medal winner in 2004 for lifting 105 kg was Hossein Rezazadeh from Iran, and nick named¸ The Iranian Hercules". Rezazadeh tried to capitalise on his Olympian achievement by appearing in advertisements to promote real estate in Dubai.

His participation surprised many of his fans and was seen as demeaning to both himself and his country, given the promotion of buying estates in a land deemed as a rival.

Again, Rezazadeh is another example of an athlete who has achieved the ultimate athletic prize, a gold medal, and then quietly slips into anonymity. This begs the question from me why do they do it?

Answers on a post card please or preferably in the comment box below.