Glasgow 2014 is over. Elite level sport is publicly measured. Opinions and perspectives are as diverse as the various people expressing their point of view.
In the context of the Olympic Games and Rio 2016 in particular, Glasgow 2014 provided an important yardstick for the athletes and team sports hoping to qualify and be selected in two years’ time for Rio 2016.
The Commonwealth Games is an important barometer. It is to the credit of this country’s athletes that they understand the importance of attending and participating.
While most people focus on the medal tally of eight medals—three silver and five bronze—and the fact that gold is missing, those tuned in to Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 will keep the results and performances in the appropriate context and perspective.
The public profile of events such as the Commonwealth Games is important as it provides scrutiny and a transparency that can only propel athletes, coaches and administrators to higher heights.
It is necessary for athletes, coaches and administrators to embrace the scrutiny but in doing so don’t be distracted or angered by what may seem at times as unfair or misinformed criticism. On the other hand, it also works the other way. Enjoy the praise and adulation but don’t be similarly distracted or seduced by the celebration and back slapping.
Sport on the whole and elite sport in particular is no faithful sycophant. You are king or queen of the hill one day and the next you are a close confidante to the agony of defeat, injury or lost of form.
Invariably, the extremes of emotions, while polar opposites, can be an unnecessary obstacle to continued improvement and achievement.
Glasgow 2014 highlighted the need to improve on critical details that are fundamental to elite sport.
In the customary rush to celebrate and congratulate or criticise aspects such as athletes not getting their funding, based on the Cabinet-approved elite athlete assistance programme, guidelines are lost. The end result is that some athletes may quite correctly feel that they are being treated in a cynical and hypocritical manner and that the system is not just, fair and equitable.
Celebrate, laud, meet and greet while at the same time do not turn a blind eye to basic needs.
Let’s make sure athletes who have not received their Elite Athlete Assistance funding for the year do so.
Sometimes things need to be said and fights need to be fought even if they are unpopular or uncomfortable.
It’s the role, responsibility and duty of sport administrators to make sure that as far as possible everything is done and put in place to support those athletes who meet the requirements.
Important support systems are in place to support elite level athletes. Much has been done and most are beneficiaries of what is available.
But the process and systems aren’t in perfect working order and need to be fixed. Decisions must be made as to where investments should be made and where they may not make sense.
If this country wants to achieve its full medal potential on the Olympic, Commonwealth, World, Pan Am, CAC multi-sport stage, funding support for our athletes in both individual and team sports must be ring fenced.
The uncertainty is unhelpful and can cause underachievement. It is also unfair.
No athlete deserving of support must be left behind.