It pains me deeply. When People toss out, laughing: "Why do you even watch the Olympic Games, everybody here always loses anyway... it just sucks ..." - "I heard we were quite disappointing overall ..." You know what? That makes me so angry. Do you even know what it means, to be an Olympic athlete? Can the people who make these kinds of comments even imagine, for a moment, what an enormous thing it is, to be an athlete at this level? How hard it is?
And who is to blame? The damn press, that’s who. The press, who makes sure to remind us over and over, in headlines: "such a disappointing delegation, such screw-ups, yet another disappointment, yet another embarrassing day for the Israeli delegation…".
Who are you even?! Who do you think you are, to say this? Who are you to impair the morale of the athletes? They might accidentally open the news and see what you wrote, that they are a "disappointment". They are not the disappointing ones! On the contrary, we are the ones letting them down! The press is the one failing them. The press, who only knows how to rub salt into their wounds. While your children are chasing after Pokémons, while they are buried in their phone and in Facebook and in Snap Chat - these children (and some of them are still children), who represent us with pride, have worked every day, endured hours upon hours of training, shed sweat and blood and tears to be the best, to lift up our flag with pride at the biggest sports event in the world . And you know what? They also worked their ass off in additional jobs to pay for it, because Israel has no budget for sports that are not soccer or basketball. And being an Olympic-level athlete costs a lot of money, a lot. So they are also incredibly diligent. Do you know how difficult it is to qualify for the Olympic Games? And that it is even more difficult to achieve the Israeli criteria? So enough already with these headlines.
Sports are a legacy we must pass to our children. It’s not just about the final result. The path itself is important - the sacrifices, the effort involved. There are ups and there are downs in sports - but let's not create these downs ourselves. Our athletes are so good, they're young and talented. They deserve our support and our strength! When our own child falls, we do not tell him that he has disappointed us. We hug him and say to him "get up, smile. You fell, it happens. Get up and hold your head high. There is still a long way before you".
So there’s no budget. There isn’t always luck either.
Even good days – you don’t always have those. A split second – that’s the distance between a yes and no. A win and a loss. But they have an extraordinary passion, a poison almost, fire in their Eyes. Talent, ambition, Sportsmanship –they deserve a medal just for that. Not an Olympic one, perhaps. But a medal of words and Recognition. A medal of our appreciation and encouragement. Of our unconditional love. A medal of our support, especially during hard times. Athletes strive 4 years for this one moment. Their frustration at the moment of disappointment is painful enough without our added criticism. These are dreams that spanned years and have been dashed in a moment.
They did not disappoint us.
So thank you, dear athletes, for representing us with such dignity. I would like to apologize to you for the embarrassing headlines in the press ... they are definitely disappointing. You are a source of pride, courage, dreams and hard work. Thank you for that! Gili Gabel Actress, Dancer, past Competitive Artistic Gymnast.