The Olympics is at once the greatest sporting inspiration and the most desperate emphasiser of most people’s athletic inadequacy.
Twelve-year-olds are skateboarding to the podium; I couldn’t stand still on a board, let alone ride it. Swimmers complete four lengths of a pool in the time it takes me to do one – though I’m pretty sure my local pool is about half the size of the one in Tokyo, so I’m probably flattering myself. And l suspect my most productive activity in track and field would be building a sandcastle in the long jump pit.
There have been occasional hints of the strains that can accompany top-level sporting endeavours, most notably in Simone Biles’s withdrawal from most of the gymnastics events in order to protect her mental health. And I don’t suppose there are many serious people watching the Games who assume the triumphs come easily.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies