Tears, Triumph and Regret at the Olympics

Seyi Olanihun

Men don’t cry. This is a myth as we all know. They actually do, but not where they can be seen by other men and especially not in public.

The image of a guy shedding tears is not deemed macho; first, for the individual concerned and second, because it gives men a bad name. I believe that the thinking is that the ‘weaker sex’ has enough tears to go round so why do something that might cause others to think of you as weak and feminine?

A good cry is pretty handy and helps in some situations. The interesting part is that crying isn’t only restricted to unhappiness; in times of immense joy, they also show themselves. Since the beginning of the Olympics, we’ve certainly seen enough tears to fill several buckets. In full glare of billions, both male and female athletes have quietly shed tears or openly sobbed. Victory or defeat has brought them on and each case is poignant and reminds us just how human we are.

This act of crying by both men and women cannot be construed as weakness; it just demonstrates their humanity. It also tells us the story of the journey these remarkable athletes have made to get to this point in time. Many spectators (at the venues and thousands of miles away) can relate when the tears come. The commentators also fill us in on their stories and enable a better understanding of what’s unfolding. History has been made by various individuals like Michael Phelps, Oscar Pistorius, Felix Sanchez, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Usain Bolt, Kiraini James, Gabrielle Douglas, Andy Murray and many more too numerous to mention in this piece. Moreover, we should expect to see more tears before the Games come to an end.

Life is bittersweet like we all know and this aspect hasn’t been left out of the Games. A moment of sheer happiness for someone could mean the opposite for another. As one person or team weeps for joy, the other cries in disappointment. Whichever is the case, the spirit of sportsmanship prevails and the victor and loser congratulate each other, with the firm understanding that the best man triumphed and the roles could be reversed at any point.

The Olympics will continue to be a tremendous collection of inspiring stories that will endure. Individuals and teams will continue to demonstrate that the human spirit is at its best when challenged. It rises above limitations and continues to defy expectations.

So even though men don’t cry, we have witnessed men of all shades, creeds and sport cry openly and unashamedly in full view. We have celebrated with them when the tears were joyous and also sympathised when they were indicative of loss. We have not thought them as emasculated or unnecessarily emotional as the tears emerged, but we have saluted them and participated with full understanding in their moment.

These moments will never return and we allow them to savour it to its fullest knowing that it becomes a memory that they can only look back on in the days ahead. If only the spirit of the Olympics would prevail every single day hereafter. Then we would better understand our fellow travelers and be more tolerant as they journey in life and our lives intersect as it is wont to.


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