The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Monday, August 13, 2012

Diversity Inroads at the 2012 Olympics

It seems the USA Dream Team has super powers beyond the basketball court. As I listened to Bryant, Durant, and James being interviewed after helping the Team win a Gold Medal for their country, I heard them verbalizing what I was thinking, what I was saying to myself, what I have advocated for so long. They spoke of having respect for their competitors. They proclaimed the importance of focus on doing well in the sport and putting forth their best effort to win - for their country. They expressed the supremacy of being a professional in your field. And they demonstrated the veracity of their expressions with the gestures of appreciation extended to their competitors and their coaches.

That was what the Olympics was about in Great Britain. It was the exemplification of the standards we need to use to guide us in the execution of our daily lives as we work - and live. Using the focus that the Dream Team members exhort will deliver the best that can be achieved. It will also deliver the best price to be had.

However, it became clear on a daily basis that these Olympic games were groundbreaking for more than the World records that were broken and reset. This was an Olympics that was also a celebration of diversity. Starting with age and while not the oldest in the history of Olympic games, Japan's Hoketsu at age 71 was the oldest Olympic competitor (equestrian) this year. Likewise, the 39 year old Iovtchev of Bulgaria was the oldest male gymnast this year. He noted that had he not entered the competition, a great many in his country would have wound up unemployed. His presence helped to continue the Bulgarian gymnastics federation.

It was rumored that there was a woman over 50 who competed in gymnastics but I can find no record of such an entrant. Perhaps the rumor was about 86-year-old Johanna Quus but she was not an Olympics entrant. She performed at the Cottbus, Germany World competition. However, the women's beach volleyball team included three women, Jen Kessy, Misty May-Treanor, and Kerri Walsh Jennings, who are aged 35, 35, and 34, respectively.

Speaking of women, are you aware that women were not allowed to compete in the original Games? They sort of wrangled their way in. It took a few centuries for them to actually gain access to the field and legitimately vie in the competitions. They made it by the Nineteenth Century. These 2012 Games were the first in which women were represented in all national Olympic committee entries. This was the first time for Qatar, Brunei, and Saudi Arabia to have women in the games. Muslim women also made inroads. They pushed the barriers out of their way and succeeded in making striking accomplishments on the fields of competition and behind the scenes in planning and deveopment. This year the religious holiday of Ramadan fell directly in the midst of competition. Woroud Sawalha faced challenges of attire in addition to those of their sport and restrictions on where they could train. They made astounding victories in their own rights.

Then there were those who entered the Games and did not look like any of their competitors. Oscar Pistorius was the first athlete who is a double amputee to compete in and win the Men's qualifying 400M. Although a teammate took a fall during the Men's 4x400 qualifying heat that appeared to disqualify South Africa for that event, South Africa (his team) lodged a protest and was allowed to compete for a medal in that race. The men's team took no medals in either of his events.

Pistorius probably faced challenges as grueling as those endured by fellow countrywoman Semenya. The sweetness of victory was not kept from her. Semenya came from last in the Women's 800M to cross the finish line as a Silver Medalist.

Lest I be accused of overlooking youth, women's USA gymnast Gabby Douglas at age 16 was the first Black woman to win Gold in the the Women's Gymnastics and also helped her team to win the All Around Gold.

There's so much to say about these 2012 Olympic Games. However, it's time to take a breather. But many of the situations that arose is these Games brought back memories of bygone Games and competitors. Those will come in a little while.

Sponsored Link: The Complete Book of the Olympics: 2012 Edition

No comments: