There’s a new distraction in Rio. Or more accurately, there’s an old distraction that’s reached Olympic proportions. That’s the age-old issue of doping in sport. Despite what seems like a significant amount of evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russia the IOC only banned some Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics. As the saga was playing out in the media, athletes were in the process of competing for spots on their national team and preparing for Rio. The uncertainty of whether or not Russian athletes would be allowed to compete in the final verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sports became a sideshow and a distraction for the athletes in this process. Those familiar with sports know that doping has always been an issue. Most of the athletes in track and field, when asked in a setting where they aren’t afraid of being honest, will tell you the athletes that are doping. It’s pretty widely known. Some of these athletes who are doping even talk and brag about it to the clean athletes. They know they’ve been one step ahead of the testers and don’t have much to fear.
Which make some of the performances in Rio pretty outstanding. Despite all of the media attention and hoopla, the Games go on. There certainly are plenty of things to distract athletes at the games. I’m sure most people intuitively understand this. However until you’ve had a chance to live in the Olympic Village the level of pressure and distraction is pretty hard to understand. So it’s very impressive to see athletes like Lily King put all this aside in order to be able to compete. Not only did she have to race against one of the Russians (who had been caught twice before for doping), but she had to swim in the lane right next door. Despite this not only did she go on to win but did so in an Olympic record. All this might seem pretty amazing to most people, and it is. Know that it’s the process of years of training and deliberate preparation to be able to handle distractions and pressure moments like this. Something every athlete can learn to do in their performances.