Amid the excitement of the first Englishman ever to win the Tour de France, the surprise victory of a veteran golfer at the Open and Andy Murray…Doh!…Not again…Well – maybe next year…it would still be hard to ignore that li’l ole thang happening in London during the Summer of Sport. I am not going to add my ha’penn’worth about windsurfing being dropped from the Olympics (it would take you far too long to get me off my soap-box!) Instead, I wish Bryony and Nick all the best and hope that British Olympic Windsurfing will, at least, go down in a blaze of glory on home turf!
With windsurfing out, I do fear for my chance of achieving Olympic gold… But luckily, you do not need an Olympic dream to enjoy or compete within a sport. Most of us would never take up anything if our sole objective were Olympic glory. We participate in sport for many reasons, but even within purely recreational sport, a flicker of the Olympic spirit burns…
Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympic Games as a forum for competition between amateur, not professional sportspeople. He believed that competition, rather than winning, is key. “The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.” To me, the racing in the NWF embodies this fundamental spirit of the Olympics. The NWF truly is an amateur competition. Whatever your level, it is all about taking part and doing your best, in a friendly, competitive environment.
A bit of competition is healthy; it gives focus and encourages improvement. Nevertheless, amateur sportspeople often shy away from competition. The reasons can be many, but frequently lands solidly with The F Word. Fear. Competition necessarily involves putting yourself up to be weighed, measured and judged – and this provokes fear. Fear of failure; fear of letting others down; fear that we will look silly or get it wrong in public.
But really, the fear surrounding competition is unfounded. As an emotion, fear evolved to protect us from danger and let’s face it, entering a windsurfing race is pretty consequence-free. We won’t risk attack by an army of tiger sharks as we head for the buoy or invite the onset of Armageddon if we don’t secure a podium finish!
Competition need not be intimidating. At NWF, races are intended to be straightforward and without any complicated rules or need for special equipment. Start on the beach with any board / sail combo; out and back to a buoy; finish back on the beach – just like when you race your mate at the weekend, really! The F word is still there; the 3 letter one – FUN!
Laura Jurgens entered her first ever windsurf race at the NWF, having been windsurfing for only 8 months. “I didn’t win – but I didn’t come last! But I did have the biggest smile on my face from all the 300 competitors – and I felt I should have won a prize for that alone!” Indeed she should! Laura enjoyed it so much that she has not missed a single NWF since and says “Don’t be scared about the word RACE like I was……
Even if you’re a beginner, as long as you can get around a simple course (doesn’t matter if you wobble or fall off a trillion times like I did) then it’s for you!!!! Its all about taking part and having lots of fun – and it really is!”
Think of some of the most memorable Olympians. Eric the Eel and Eddie the Eagle are Olympic legends. They not only failed – they did so SPECTACULARLY! Yet they achieved global celebrity status and years later, are remembered with admiration and affection.
Why? Because they had the gumption to give it a go! They fought well – both did hold the record for their sport in their home countries – and so they truly demonstrate the Baron’s vision of the Olympic spirit!
Here’s a quote from the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s ‘The Complete World of Sports’* which says it all. “Aristotle thought that sports were one of the highest of human endeavours; that they embody ideals of body and spirit and that sports can take us out of our shallow selves and make us part of something larger…Part of a team.”
Come along to the NWF and fight well, my friend and in doing so, you WILL become part of something larger than yourself – a personification of The Olympic Spirit and part of the NWF team!
You can enter the NWF via the website. The emphasis is on taking part and having fun, rather than going for glory, although there is certainly some glory to be had! There are hundreds of superb prizes to be given away and you can even win the opportunity to take part in the incredible Night Windsurf alongside the professional windsurfers!
*(Go see it!)
You can sign a petition to keep windsurfing in the Olympics on http://www.change.org/petitions/isaf-keep-windsurfing-as-olympic-discipline