What is the current London Olympics medal count? Every day my prime time TV broadcast ends with a recap of the medal count. Well, sort of. It’s actually the top six or so countries, and the emphasis seems to be on who has more medals, China or the United States. I heard a discussion on the radio yesterday about how they arrive at their totals. One of the speakers said that the United States counts each medal as 1 point, regardless of whether it’s gold, silver or bronze. He added that China counts a gold as 3 points, a silver as 2 points and a bronze medal as 1 point. Therefore, both countries have a very different total and story they broadcast out to the public.
It makes sense that every country focuses on and highlights its own athletes. If they win, it’s a honor for the country and an honor for the individual or team. I was curious about the bigger picture and took a look at the entire medal picture. A Guatamalan man won the silver medal in race walking; a 19-year-old man from Grenada won the 400m race. Both represent the total medal count, one, for each country. Belarus won a total of nine; Qatar has won two. I just picked these as examples of winners I don’t hear about. There are many more and I’m sure they are big news in their own country. It would be fun to hear their individual stories. And think about it, most athletes who participate in the Olympics don’t win a medal. Yet they are top athletes, the very few who get to complete on a world stage.
Although media puts primary focus on winning, many athletes are happy trying to beat their own personal best time. Run or swim a second or two faster. Pole vault or high jump an inch higher. The competition is not only with others, but within the individual person.
I like that thought — go for our personal best. Challenge ourselves to do a little bit more, be a little bit stronger, a little bit wiser, a little healthier. Doing what we can do with our mind and body to be our best selves. For some, the best is shown in competition with other athletes. For most of us, the best we want to be is within ourselves. For all of us, that’s where it needs to start — inside.