From COVID to the Olympics: the things that inspire us
Posted: Wed, 28 Jul 2021 09:22
From Covid to the Olympics – the things that can inspire us
Thought leader John Oxley on why the Olympics gives us a unique opportunity to change the narrative about physical activity so that everyone has an equal chance at an active life.
As I settle to watch amazing feats of physical and technical excellence at the Tokyo Olympics, I've found my mind drifting between the spectacle of elite sport and the health inequalities that the pandemic has shone a light upon. And I'm left wondering, whether one light will shine brighter than the other or whether we can find it in ourselves to connect the two and use it to inspire us to make change for good.
You see whilst those Olympians produce performances of strength, speed, stamina and skill that most of us can only dream about….they all started out doing that stuff for fun and they are all just moving about.
The point is, Tom Pidcock once rode with stabilisers, Adam Peaty was afraid of water and Ellen White kicked a ball about in the playground.
You see the joy on their faces now is exactly the same as the joy they found when they were children – or at least our gold medal breast-stroker did once he'd overcome his fear!
The stuff we're seeing on the telly just now is no different – I insist, it is no different – to the moving about for fun we'd encourage our communities to do now. Its just that Covid has illustrated how much we really need to move about and how much sections of our community aren't always afforded the opportunity to participate in things that are good for them, physically, mentally and socially.
So, this is about changing our narrative. It's about moving about because it's fun and it's healthy – not because we desire to be amazingly fit or aspire to resemble stereo-typical beautiful body images. Those are the very things we should use this inspiration to challenge.
We must show humility and acknowledge that the way we've presented physical activity in the past hasn't appeared relevant to many people in our communities, so we must strive to find ways to be relevant and meaningful so that everyone is afforded the opportunity to ride with stabilisers like Tom, be splashed in the face like Adam and probably to come home with a big bruise on the shin like Ellen, and laugh about it too!
You see, if we look closely enough, we can find that inspiration to connect those images on the TV with having the enthusiasm and the creativity to persuade our communities to move about a little bit more. It will just take a preparedness to frame things differently, to challenge our language and our beliefs, and to have the courage to rip up convention and re-create the excitement that exists whether you're 'finding air' over some boulders in the shadows of Mount Fuji or you're plonking down 'jumpers for goalposts' in the local park.
They both make us sweat and smile!