Nobody feels worse than Mellisa Hollingsworth right now.
The 29-year-old skeleton racer from Eckville, Alta., considered to be a lock for a podium finish at the Vancouver Olympic Games, had a medal slip through her fingers after a disastrous fourth run down the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Friday night.
“I feel like I have let my entire country down,” Hollingsworth told CTV as tears streamed down her rosy cheeks.
No Melissa, you haven’t let us down. If you’ve been made to feel that way, perhaps by the reporters shoving microphones in your face and flaunting their photographs of your tears, or by national sports officials eager to “own the podium” at the games, then let me apologize for them and for all of us. We’re happy to cheer for you, ecstatic when you win, and we share your disappointment when you fall short, but we don’t need you to win a gold medal for us. We’ll be just fine if you don’t.
Don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying you should stop striving for gold. We want you to go for it, and we know in your competitor’s heart that you want that gold medal badly. But whether you finish first or last (and 5th place at the Olympics is a rather good showing) we’re proud of you. And if we aren’t, that’s our problem, not yours.