Here we have a heartfelt post from our faithful correspondent, Chuck Hayden, father of Olympic swimmer Brent Hayden. It’s been great having Chuck doing some of my work for me, because he’s been providing us with a seldom heard from viewpoint, the parent. No doubt, he’s been charming the Chinese with his folksy and genuine manner.
Enough from me. Take it away, Chuck …
"Winding up the Wind Down, or Erratic Errata"
All -- and I do mean "all" -- of the medals you see being won at these wonderful Beijing Olympics have been bought and paid for by their home government's funding. There is no such thing any more as the clerk/weekend athlete who trains in their off hours and achieves anything at the Olympics. Eddie the Eagle has left the building!
All of our relatives and friends believe that chasing around the world in support of our sons & daughters is a holiday and part of the good life, and wonderful holidays. There is not much which could be further from the truth.
I have met with parents and family of all levels of upper and lower world-class elite athletes from around the world, and we all have things in common: We all worry about how our kids will do. It is unshakeable, we try to look for the positive. We bleed for our kids when things go poorly (which for everyone, they do at times. For some, the media just doesn't report on it. Other times, it is a media feeding frenzy.)
We all know that the good is mostly overlooked, or celebrated for a short time. Vultures are always waiting to pounce.
In the swimming world, at least, our kids are not playing on a level playing field. No, I am not talking about the availability of the new technologies in swim suits. The prevalence of performance enhancing drugs is common and becoming more prevalent all the time. Canada, thank God, is clean!
The highs are high and the lows are so low.
Athletes "scratching" from events: This is always a coaching/administrative decision. Swimming in Canada has always emphasised relays over individual performances. I guess that's the 'Canadian Way', but it is not the athlete’s decision.
I would like to thank Randy Starkman and the Toronto Star for this opportunity to put my two cents out there. I would also like to thank those of you who took the time to read. My opinions, and they are only my opinions and experiences, are not those of Randy or The Star.
These athletes are not resting on their laurels. They are already preparing for the World Championships in Rome next year, the Commonwealth Games, 2010, in Mumbai, India, the World Champs 2011 in Shanghai, and the next Summer Olympics in London, England in 2012.
And, a last note: Please support these fine young men & women who, yes, love their chosen sports, but who give up so much to compete for and hope to bring glory to the country they love so deeply: Canada. They are the best of the best!
Thank you all for your time,
(Chuck, I hope this doesn't mean you're gonna stop writing. I got more than a week left at this thing! -- Randy)