Not that I’ve had time to watch any of it, but I love the positivity (less the COVID positivity) seeping from the Olympics. Heroic tales and achieved dreams. Of course, there is plenty of heartache to go around, but amongst the huge wins is the first Philippine gold medal at an Olympic Games. Ever. I’ve never given much thought about how life-changing winning a competition can be: sure, there’s a medal, and if you’ve been lucky enough to get sponsorship, that’s great too, but largely I figure you’ve got there off your own back with a support crew you’ve probably had to pay for yourself and a huge amount of self-sacrifice.
For renowned athletes like Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic, winning an Olympics medal, one would imagine, is a bauble amongst the masses. But what of Hidilyn Diaz, a Staff Sergeant and Airwoman for the Philippines Air Force? Well, things are a bit different. Winning gold in weightlifting, she took home an incredible $650,000 in prize money from the Philippine Sports Commission and private donations. On top of that AirAsia offer her free flights for life, and she has also been given two houses. And a condo. And free petrol for life by one of the fuel companies in her home country. A national hero, undoubtedly numerous celebrity endorsements will increase her reward too.
I love stories like this. It ticks a lot of boxes. From a woman that in successive Olympic Games was second to last, didn’t finish and then won Silver last time out, finally winning gold must have been pretty sweet. All this despite being implicated in a supposed conspiracy to topple the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, and deluged with threats as a result. That was only two years ago.
So, no complaining and bitching this week (I know, habit of a lifetime, gone!), no snide remarks at useless politicians or debacle vaccine rollouts, just admiration for amazing athletes, and more importantly, amazing women. Having just finished Women and Leadership by Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonko-Iweala, women put up with a lot of shit. The book is a who's who of incredible women leaders. For any male readers (or readers, actually), this is an eye-opener to sexism and gender bias that often passes us by. We must do better.
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