Marvelling at greatness

I’ve had another ‘Adam Brown’ moment.

I went swimming earlier than normal this week, and was rewarded with seeing our Olympic hopeful in the middle of his training routine rather than at the tail end. And oh boy, this was impressive.

Towering over us all as he clambered onto his swimmer’s podium (whatever it’s called), he lept off like a jaguar into the water, gave us 3 seconds of “where’s he going to surface?” silence, then burst out half way (HALF WAY!) down the pool and created an awesome cacophony of sound and movement as he finished the lap.

I was so mesmerized that my friend laughed when I turned to her and said, “Remind me what we’re here for? Oh yes, swimming!”

I’ve watched incredible feats of athleticism on the TV, but had never experienced watching it in the flesh. Literally.

Now, before you remind me that I’m a married woman, and to calm down, I can honestly say that i was more bowled over by the sheer power and strength that was displayed than by his Adonis-like physique. Ok, ok, that’s only partly true 😉

I was also struck by how you can’t actually make yourself to be an Olympian swimmer without being born with the required shape: as tall as a boat mast and as broad as a yard arm. Walking down the pool with his training partner, the latter looked like a puny teenager, and he’s probably some medal-toting swimmer to boot.

In short, I was marvelling at greatness.

It reminded me of how un-British it is to express our amazement and wonder at excellence, and how sad that is, especially when it comes to other walks of life where those who show elements of ‘greatness’ or at least excellence deserve our encouragement and praise.

I’m thinking of children who produce incredible works of art, an 8 year old who plays the piano like a 12 year old, a mother who writes an inspiring and artisitically creative blog whilst bringing up a special needs child and 2 siblings. We often shy away from publically praising them, especially if they’re our own child, for fear of looking like we’re blowing our own trumpet, or embarrassing them.

For sure, we don’t want to give shy people unwanted attention, and we need to be sensitive to other people’s feelings, but lets not swing on the pendulum to the extent that we don’t celebrate that which is fantastic. A society that can’t celebrate the ‘excellent’ as well as the ‘improving’ reduces the incentive to be the best we can be.

And we’ve got a great opportunity this summer to start practising…

3 thoughts on “Marvelling at greatness

  1. The mother with the blog definitely needs praise. And chocolate. And something to stop her brain from rotting. Or perhaps she just needs to spend more time oogling swimmers?


    • I hope you feel duly praised…! Blogs are great for stopping the brain rot. BTW You should come along sometime to me & Kathy’s swimming sessions. Its better than chocolate…:-) Oh and thanks for the comment x

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