Aki Riihilahti - Offisiell Hjemmeside In English Suomeksi PŚ norsk
Nyheter SpÝrsmŚl Fakta Historie Bilder Spesial

Nyheter

Tilbake til nyheter

18.8.2004
Aiming for next Olympics

Why would you ever want to be an Olympic athlete! It is a shit job. Your whole life has to be for many years dedicated to your sport with little chance of success or reward. Could you live extremely restricted life style with no compromises? Why wouldnít you become a footballer instead!

Once upon a time there was a footballer and an Olympic athlete. The Olympic athlete trained vigorously years but didnít qualify for the finals. He had adjusted his whole way of living to serve focusing for this competition. He had little funding and he was quickly after his race left on his own with only thing to fall on the fact that he has to wait four years for a new chance. There is something admirable honour in his fanatic quest for optimal physical conquest. There is also something bit silly. Meanwhile the footballer drew his first game in the Premiership and lost the second one. Still no matter the results he had weekly wages and another chance to prove himself in four days time. This story was not a fairy tale. Itís reality.

We just lost to Everton. Iím home eating my dinner and watching telly. The Match of the day and Olympics high lights comes straight after each other. Tuna pasta and sports from telly isnít the most exciting Saturday night. I can hear outside people going out. I canít. Itís one of the prices I have to pay from the life Iíve chosen. Iím actually quite entertained anyway by the Match of the day. I start thinking there are lot of great athletes in the Premiership. Hard-boiled professionals. Lot of different types of players and qualities. Lot of pressure. Lot of passion. Iím proud of being involved with all this. Coverage from our game is last and shortest. I hate the fact we lost our first Premiership home game. The result was disappointing. It hurt.

I take a consolation ice-cream to ease my anger while the high lights from the Olympics start straight after our game. Watching that makes me understand what real pain is. Itís all written to faces of athletes in the Olympic Games. You can see people in crocodile tears. You can see unearthly joy. You can see people absolutely collapsing. I feel for them. I respect them. The joy or disappointment is so real. They do it with their whole life. It is not just tears and joy. You can see years and lives summed up to little moments. I have to admit it is not so deep in football. There is obviously joy and disappointment. You put your heart and body on the line. However couple of games are never the end of the world. Not many are celebrating or grieving it like nothing else mattered.

I admire athletes training for Olympics. Their dedication and sacrifices are not understandable to many, not even to most athletes in other sports. It is not a job. Itís a calling. You got to have a special state of mind. You got to be over ambitious. You got to have strong mentality. You have to have the talent and physics. Sometimes the talent is very narrow but you have to be ultimately best in the world at it. And you have to train your nuts off. Every day for many years. Still most likely you donít get what you deserve. You probably donít get anything. You might have done the best possible preparation and be closest to your best possible potential but still not be even near of getting success. There is usually someone who is better or someone who is not competing cleanly. Sometimes it even looks like men are competing in women events. Itís not often a rewarding journey. I admire these athletes who have dedicated their life for sports with pay-as-you-go deal with themselves.

To get a professional contract in football is extremely hard, needs dedication, multi-talent, strong mentality and hard work, but there are still more chances to make it. In the short run you can have nightmares but in the long run you normally get what you deserve if you are good and dedicated enough. And when you make it, you still maintain hard work, commitment and dedication but there are also more room to explore what else is out there. I can see from the British rowing team that they have not allowed themselves the occasional ice-cream Iím munching now. They donít take even little liberties like this.

I throw my un-prohibited dessert away and listen an interview of another athlete. She is hysteric. She didnít deliver because she had an off-day. It is a gamble to train for Olympics. Even if you have had almost four years of good results and training, it doesnít help you if you happen to wake up feeling not near your peak. In football you can compensate and compromise with for example tactics or skills. But if your legs are little heavy you wonít even see the heels of the Kenian runners. How about if you wake up with a cold? I bet four years would feel quite an unfair price to pay for it. The other competitions between are only like pre-season games. So there might not so many chances but on the other hand chances are closely related to pressure. Olympic athletes have to peak and handle pressure only once every fourth year. Footballers have a new chance but are also judged once every fourth day. The opportunities and pointing fingers are there all the time. I canít really draw a line between Olympic athletes and professional footballers.

Have a pick. Shorter working hours or a whole day job? Good weekly wages or uncertain, often even self-funding? Thousands cheering for you or not many really noticing and caring about your achievements? Able to eat occasional pizza or no room for compromises? Most of the people would choose always the first option. Some donít. They are called Olympic athletes. On the other hand you could also choose whether you have to be multi-talented or just being able to throw a javelin? To have pressure every week or once every fourth year? Trying to be an individual in a team sport or just being able do your own way?

You canít really compare Olympic athletes and professional footballers like to like. They are completely different things, which require different kind of extreme qualities and talented people. Most but not all Olympic athletes or footballers are great professionals. They are all great athletes. I canít say which are better. Maybe people who didnít make it as footballers changed sports to train for Olympics. Or maybe itís the other way round. I only know they are both different but respectable paths. There is no doubt in which you get better rewards in terms of material heights. However the best reward is the sport itself and the piece of mind for going after your dreams. You got to go for it whatever it is. I wasnít able to throw a javelin.

AKi


Copyright 2001 Aki Riihilahti, all rights reserved GŚ til toppen av siden