Sunday, May 19, 2024

Olympic selection is one physical challenge – the emotional side is just as brutal

The Olympic selection process is an emotive subject. TODD WILLIAMS looks at how to be a better, stronger person in dejection

With pushbacks finally looming at the Olympics, focus can now shift to performances and results and away from that most contentious of topics: selection.

For hockey players, representing their country at an Olympic Games is often perceived as the ultimate prize. Playing in a World Cup is also of course a special achievement, but the rare opportunity to be on sport’s biggest stage and forever be known as an “Olympian” adds a special level of individual achievement to a team-based, international sporting career.     

That is why there is so much attention, and often controversy, over the four (and in this case, five) year process, through which initial squads of 30 or so players are eventually trimmed down to the final teams.

For a player, it’s an experience like no other. The race for the precious prize is long and fraught with the ever-present dangers of form and injury. Then there is the emotional challenge of competing for an Olympic spot against your team-mates, and often, people who are your close friends.

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Todd was a stand-by athlete for the Australian team which won silver at the Barcelona Olympics.

Read more from Todd with his regular columns

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