When the Australian world champion swimmer dubbed ‘The Missile’ swam a time dramatically slower than expected in the 4X100m freestyle relay at the London Olympics this week — resulting in NO MEDAL (shock! horror!) — the media furor was pretty shocking. “What happened?” everyone wanted to know, the implicit meaning being: How could you do this to us?
But do the media honestly think there could have been anyone more shattered than James himself? As I watched the poor guy, head in hands, bewildered, confidence shattered, it struck me that there are several parallels that can be drawn between athletes and writers.
1. Both athletes and writers will come down on themselves much harder than anyone else could.
2. Both athletes and writers have to combat and conquer the demons of doubt when they least expect it.
3. Both athletes and writers must push themselves and be disciplined in order to succeed. Talent will only get them so far; the rest is sheer perseverance.
4. Most athletes and writers must treat their vocation as a second career, while holding down full-time jobs.
5. I reckon an athlete’s training regime must be akin to writing the first draft of a novel, with meets like the Olympics akin to having a book published.
6. Many athletes will not make the Olympics, just as many writers will never be published… Of those who DO make the Olympics, most will not win a medal, just as most published writers will not be best-sellers. The amazing high of winning Olympic medals or authoring a best-seller is reserved for a tiny minority.
Of course, there are just as many — probably more — ways in which these professions are not similar, but the above parallels are interesting.
Any thoughts, my friends? Can anyone come up with some other parallels I haven’t thought of? Please share your thoughts.