What would Zeus think?
Just picture the God of Gods, looking down from his cloud, floating just above Mount Olympus, watching the end of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Wondering what all the fireworks are actually for? All the medals of gold, silver and bronze, glinting in the sunlight. The very silly humans that thought they could win by lying and taking drugs. Spectators watching in different time zones, in different countries, cheering on their teams. Not at all like that in his day.
Let’s head back to Zeus’s day, to 776 BC, to Olympia, a valley near the city of Elis in southwest Greece. The original games were held over 4 days, with events like chariot racing, boxing, javelin, wrestling and discus. The pentathlon was added with extra disciplines to those listed above, of running and long jump. Audience’s seated in the stadium that held around 50,000 people. The weather was brutally hot with little water to drink, however it was always well attended. At the close of the games there was a huge feast, entertainment by acrobats and jugglers and politicians used this platform to make speeches to the gathered crowds. The fearless winners were given wreaths made of leaves and considered hero’s when they returned home.
Women however, were not permitted to go to the Olympic games only men, boys and unmarried girls. What would they have made of Alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn, Cross-country skier Marit Bjorgen and Curling’s Eve Muirhead? Apart from the chilly white snow, their mindsets, motivation in the face of adversity and strength are of the same herculean proportions as those 2,700 years previous. Zeus may have made an exception for these ladies in light of his son Hercules’s triumphant victory of the Olympians over the giants. I am certain Hercules would have harnessed their strength and ensured they were part of the team.
I am sure too that Hercules would have applauded Lindsay Vonn for harnessing the hunter spirit of his sister Artemis. Vonn for those who don’t know her is the most successful American ski racer in history. Her medal cabinet contains Olympic gold and bronze medals, two World Championship gold’s in 2009. In 2007 and 2011 she added 3 silver medals and four overall World Cup Titles. A true Olympian and heroine of her sport. Lindsey has had her fair share of disasters and disappointments. However she taps into her growth mindset that she knows will reset her thoughts and actions. Learning to embrace these disasters and seeing them as challenges to grow from. Lindsey really pulled out the stops in the games in Pyeongchang and left with a bronze medal, but as she says even at 33 she’s not done yet!
As the twin of Artemis, Apollo was one of the most important and complex Olympian deities. Recognised as the god of music, truth and prophecy, who could have foretold of Norway’s astonishing results at these games?
Marit Bjorgen is a Norwegian cross-country skier with 112 individual victories under her belt. Her journey to the top has also had its ups and downs. When suffering from bronchitis and an upset stomach meant she could not compete in the Turin Olympics. On the face of it all those training hours seemed lost and she was quoted as saying she was “sick and tired of Pragelato and the Olympic Games’. Marit didn’t waste anytime; refocusing and propelling herself back into action. She is now a five-time Olympian, winning the most medals by any athlete, in winter Olympic history. Marit won the very last gold medal of the 2018 Pyeongchang games today, making the total for Norway a massive 39 medals overall, 14 being gold’s. A truly fearless lady and Olympic team.
Apollo is also associated with the sun; light and healing, I think Eve Muirhead will need all of these elements as she waves farewell. She and her curling team have had lackluster games and finished with no medals at all. The healing will come in many forms for Eve, firstly in her self-talk; she will positively reinforce her fearless decision to play the shot she played. It was the right shot. Secondly she will take solace from her team who believe in her and offer the light at the end of the self-doubt tunnel. And thirdly use all this information to improve and grow, with her head held high and face to the sun.
So may the gods be with this fearless group of people, who are motivated to learn more, push themselves further and correct their mistakes; after all they are only human. I look forward to seeing everyone at the Beijing Games in 2022.