Sunday, 5 August 2012

It's not about having fun, it's about winning: why Leisel Jones let Australia, and herself, down

I'm relieved this is the last we'll be seeing of Leisel Jones at the Olympics - ever. 

It's been frustrating enough to watch most of the Australian team having a dog of a games. 

Then, to add salt to the wound, Jones, who's already got a pocketful of medals from her other Olympic expeditions, pops up in London like a gopher and chirps: "I'm having so much fun."

And she doesn't just say it once. After every swimming event and during every interview, the blonder-than-blonde breaststroker, claims this games is all about FUN, FUN, FUN. 

The sycophantic Australian media responds with: "Leisel's such a great girl. She's got such a great attitude, isn't she an inspiration?"*

My answer to that is: Maybe Jones was an inspiration when she won silver in Sydney, bronze in Athens and gold in Beijing. But in Old Blighty she's only managed fifth place in the 100m breaststroke final.

She's more of a downer than an upper.

After finishing the 100m breaststroke final, dripping with fake ebulliance, Jones said she was happy to make the finals and "pleased" with fifth place. 

What the? 

If you're reading this Leisel (haha), for those of us back here in Australia who have surely contributed something fiscal and emotional to your Olympic career, that sounds rather lame. Surely, you can't be satisfied with fifth? I think you're lying.

When Michael Phelps finished fourth in the 400 meter IM he pulled his finger out BIG TIME and showed the world he had unfinished business. He went on to win four gold and two silver medals. He had a point to prove and was determined to go out with a bang, not a whimper. 

Leisel Jones went in to cruise mode at the London Olympics and justified her lack of focus and slack attitude by claiming she was having lots of fun. What a cop out.  

I know some will consider my slagging off of an Australian sporting 'icon'** to be cruel and unnecessary. But for the serious athlete who's hungry for a medal, fun doesn't enter the equation. It's all about pulling your weight and pushing yourself to the extreme edge to achieve a personal best.

I heard a former rugby league player on the radio the other day (I'm always in the bloody car driving to and from work). He said something that stuck - to achieve greatness requires absolute dedication and relentless drive and "aggression". 

Leisel Jones couldn't cut the mustard.

To finish, I've thrown in a quote from a member of the English men's coxless four rowing team that shows the level of commitment needed to achieve an elusive gold medal:

Peter Reed, Alex Gregory, Tom James and Andy Triggs-Hodge took the rowing team's fourth successive gold by beating the Australian team as the rain began to fall. 

"It took us four years to make that. It was our masterpiece," said an exuberant Triggs-Hodge after the race. "Four years of training every day, pulling out everything we had. I'm the happiest man in the world. I've been blessed with these guys, I've been blessed with the support of my family and my wife. I'm on cloud nine."

Maybe Leisel isn't aware that the fun part comes AFTER all the hard work. 

*the media was chastised after the public complained over the publication of photos of an unfit looking Jones at the Olympic village and reports that she was was fat and unfit. Now they're scared to say anything negative about her for fear of another backlash. Fact is, the truth hurts. Maybe the cruel jibes were ultimately justified.

**open to hot debate as icon should really only be reserved for superstars who never give up such as Michael Bloody Legend Phelps.

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