Risk vs Glory at the Commonwealth Games

Posted: 23rd September 2010

To most non-sports people listening to the news this week you might wonder why our athletes still seem prepared to take a chance on their personal safety to compete in this year’s Commonwealth Games.

For many athletes, competing at the Commonwealth Games is the highest privilege and something they may have dreamed of, and worked towards, for years. It is an opportunity for athletes to prove  themselves at this high pressure level  and it has been the platform from which many successful international careers have been launched. For me the Commonwealth Games was very special because it was the only occasion I was able to represent my home nation of Wales rather than Great Britain.

You have to take the risks into context too. There is always the risk of injury and always the risk of illness. Athletes live with these. In my sport of cycling, in every race there is also the real risk of a high-speed pile-up on the track or road. The winners are sometimes the ones who ride the finest lines between glory and disaster. In the final sprint for the line, personal safety often comes second to boldness.

I once competed in a World Cup in Cali, Colombia, nicknamed “kidnap capital”. We were warned not to leave the team hotel and cross over to the shopping complex over the street as there was a high probability we wouldn’t come back! We had armed police escorts between the hotel and track to protect our buses against hijack. Yet Cali was a regular on the international circuit; they really love their bike racing there and they held some of the best events. We had a great time.

When athletes set aside their ordinary lives for years to be in with a chance to take the top spot on the podium and hear their national anthem playing, you can start to imagine why they are still lining up to compete in India.

I really hope that the miracle comes for Delhi and that they can recover in time for when the athletes arrive. Knowing what I do about sports people, they will rise to the great occasion and can yet make a tremendous success of these Games.

 

 

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