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LONDON: These are the Crying Games. You can’t take a walk but you bump into someone who is sobbing, bawling, blubbering, snivelling, weeping. Win a medal? Cry. Lose a medal? Weep. Compete at the Olympics for the first time? Choke back a tear. Compete at the Olympics for the last time? Wipe the water off your cheek. It’s the Olympics of Tears.
There has been a flood of “tears of joy” and “sobs of happiness” in headlines and intros in the media this week. There’s no shame in it. The tears, I mean. I feel some shame in using it too often, but then, you readers like your tears. You lot like a bit of emotion and so we give it to you. When Chad le Clos cried in the pool as he realised he had beaten Michael Phelps, we filled the first three paragraphs with snot and trane. When his father, who is decidedly not camera shy, turned it on for the cameras last week, we gave you those as well, and you felt an uncomfortable amount of snot building up. Must have been flu.
Even the Observer couldn’t help themselves yesterday: “Record rowers shed tears of joy and pain” was spread across two pages, no less. Katherine Copeland, who was one half of the women’s double sculls, gave a gold-medal performance in crying when she stood on the podium, face gurned up as though she was reliving the pain of their last few hundred metres on the water. Her teammate cried throughout, almost unable to sing the national anthem. Beside them the Chinese rower tried to control herself, but she let a tear flow.
Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter showed how the pain of defeat can almost be too much for tears when the Great Britain lightweight double sculls team lost out on gold. They were stunned and could not get out of the boat for ages. Sir Steve Redgrave carried a distraught Hunter to the shore when they eventually got to the pontoon.
“Sometimes in life you don’t get what you want, regardless of how hard you try. As anyone who watched our race will appreciate, that moment of realisation can be desperately painful. I’ve never felt so totally and utterly gutted. We were there to win gold, nothing else. Even though I’m holding a silver medal, it still feels completely heart-wrenching,” wrote Purchase in the Observer.
“I’m just so disappointed for all the people who have helped and supported us along the way. To be honest, the aftermath of the race is a blank. I just remember crossing the finishing line and being totally wiped, emotionally and physically. I felt completely dead in the boat… I cannot imagine ever being able to derive any consolation from the race outcome. The whole point about sport is that you have winners and losers. It’s important for people to keep that in mind. Getting medals for taking part is not what it’s about; it’s all about getting medals for winning.”
Sometimes tears are not enough to tell the full story, but they’ll do.