The Olympics take place in London from 27 July to 12 August and the Paralympics from 29 August to 9 Sept.
Coming around only once every four years means athletes have little time in the spotlight (unless they are a big name already), which is tough considering they have to train so hard over a number of years to get to compete at this level.
They make a lot of sacrifices especially if they are in less well-known sports which don’t provide much of an income.
When they get to the Olympic finals, their moment in the spotlight is very short-lived and especially so if they are knocked out in the heats. Obviously it gets better the closer you get to gold but the only option for getting the most attention is gold (unless you are a wild card who raises a few eyebrows – remember Eric the eel in Sydney?).
But why such a paucity of coverage of athletes’ stories in the build up to, and at, the games? Traditional media isn’t interested until the Olympics get close and therefore become ‘newsworthy’ – this is the type of local news coverage currently being written.
Maybe there is more coverage and I have yet to find it, maybe athletes are blogging or sharing their stories and successes to their networks at a local level.
If they are then how about someone pulling it together so that these stories are amplified?
It looks as if the BBC is having a stab at this as it is going to have a profile page for every competing athlete (see also the BBC Olympics site). The British Olympic Association would seem to be the obvious organisation to aggregate and share the stories of British athletes but there isn’t a lot of that on their 2012 site currently.
All athletes from every point of the globe deserve more attention for their efforts and we now have the technology to do this. The stories are compelling (triumph in the face of adversity is a common theme) and it is those stories that will make the games.
I was prompted to write this post by a project by my sister in law Laura Woolnough and her colleague Ginny Jory who over the last couple of years have been documenting some of the British Olympic hopefuls – you can see their images at Olympic Portraits. I’ve enjoyed watching the project unfold.
Good luck to all the athletes as they prepare for July, August and September.