These Olympics were made even more cruel by a year’s delay from the pandemic. At first the countdown was paused, then a full year was added to the clock. And strict protocols meant that travel parties to the Olympics were severely limited — none of the usual family and friends who typically provide mental support. The people who usually share the experience, the believers and the huggers, are far away.
And with competitors having limited time in the Olympic Village (most of them could not check in until five days before their competition and had to leave within a day of competing) and restricted interaction while they were there, the usual networks were snipped away. The absence of fans in the stands makes the sense of loneliness more stark. No one is there to cheer the effort, win or lose.
The surfer Carissa Moore, a four-time world champion, qualified for the Olympics more than 18 months ago. She was racked with nerves 20 minutes before her gold medal heat.
“I had to call home and be like, ‘OK, what do I do?’” she said. “They’re like, ‘You know what to do.’ I don’t think that that little self-doubt voice ever goes away. It’s just learning how to tell her: ‘Hey, just be quiet for a little bit, I got this.’”
Olympic lore is filled with names of athletes who seemed unfazed by the pressure to perform at the scheduled time, from Bonnie Blair to Michael Phelps, Shaun White to Chloe Kim, Carl Lewis to Usain Bolt.
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/28/sports/olympics/biles.html