‘The story behind the glory’
Thursday 09 August 2012
Inspired by meeting Sir Chris Hoy's wife Sarra, Ben highlights the humbling support of the loved ones living and breathing the Games alongside our incredible athletes.
"We have waited years and years for the Olympics to arrive and on day five of my job in the Olympic Stadium I think I was getting blasé. It seemed as though Team GB just weren't ever going to lose anything ever again! We were invincible - more than that, our athletes, especially the cyclists, were making it look impossibly easy. We couldn't possibly lose!
Then on Tuesday morning I was able to take my youngest son to the Velodrome. Jack is five and he and his big brother have been gripped by the Games, especially the Judo, which has essentially become their excuse for wrestling non-stop. Apparently they’re training for Rio! Not that they even know what Rio is – they’ve just heard it so much from their new heroes.
While we were waiting for the women's 3000m Omnium (on which I'm now clearly an expert - aren't we all?!) Sir Chris Hoy’s wife tapped me on my shoulder and introduced herself.
Now, I've often fantasized about being a professional sportsman (still reckon I've got a shot at The Ryder Cup team in a couple of years if I can just sort out my power fade), but after being there in the Velodrome with Jack, needless to say those fantasies now involve my boys being sportsmen too.
What struck me while I was talking to Sarra was the story behind the glory. She hadn't seen Chris since the beginning of July. She hadn't had a decent night’s sleep for weeks. She was so nervous for him she was shaking. Physically shaking! It was right then at that moment that I suddenly had an overwhelming appreciation for the sacrifice, commitment, and dedication, not just of the athletes (that’s a given), but of the families. This was Sir Chris Hoy’s wife - the man who can't be beaten. How could she possibly be nervous? He was/is invincible!
Suddenly any notion of being blasé about the remarkable achievements we have been witnessing melted, to be replaced by a much clearer sense of perspective. Our athletes are making it look easy, but that's only because of how well-prepared they are, and just as importantly, how incredible the support of their families is. Wives like Sarra, mums, dads, brothers, sisters, the lot - and it's so easy to forget that.
It was incredibly humbling and I know that the delight we all enjoyed with Sir Chris winning that record-breaking sixth gold medal will be celebrated most keenly by his family, not just because of the achievement, but also because it marks the end of a journey and a huge milestone they had all been preparing for.
He has paid tribute to Sarra since his latest triumph, and we won't ever know exactly just how tough it must have been. I hope that she'll finally now get to have a good night’s sleep!