Gold is precious and Olympic medallions boasting that unique sparkle are rare in little countries like ours. We tend to live off scraps of hope rather than expectations of glory.
o in that regard alone a former GAA president’s ambition to have our national games competing at the Games by 2044 is intriguing.
After all, that’s a few golds in the bag before Team Ireland even gets on the plane.
Liam O’Neill’s logic, outrageous though it is, would be that our far-flung diaspora would inspire international teams to take on the finest from the parish on the world’s grandest stage.
Alas, it’s not likely to happen any time soon, or for a lot longer after that either.
But at least the GAA man is seeking recognition for proper sports which have been played under a code of rules for a century and a half. In hurling’s case, the lineage stretches further again to that sweet spot where history meets myth.
In comparison, some of the events trying to seduce a worldwide audience at Tokyo 2020 include 3X3 basketball (don’t ask), BMX racing and skateboarding.
All are basically oddities that started out as urban American pastimes and now have notions well above their breeding.
You’d wonder too what football is still doing at the Games. The biggest sport in the world doesn’t really need the Olympics and its greatest international honours are fought for elsewhere every other year.
Neymar and Gabriel Jesus won gold in Rio with Brazil. Does anyone really care?
The same goes for golf and tennis, sports hotly contested in lucrative opens and masters across the globe.
Sisters Serena and Venus Williams were both gold winners for the USA but that’s not what these phenomenal tennis players will be remembered for. Not close.
If Rory Mcllroy had pulled off golf bronze in that play-off on Sunday morning, would it have been anything more than a career footnote?
Maybe it’s time to give this wonderful celebration of sporting excellence received a bit of a declutter. A case of less being more.
Bloated, market-driven and often financially ruinous to the host, the Games could do with going back to being what they once were.
The Tokyo Olympics of 1964 consisted of 19 sports. Tokyo the Sequel has almost that doubled to 33. Hard to tell what it has gained by putting on so much flab. More likely it has drained the Games of precious aura.
The modern Olympics began in 1896 and boasted just nine core events. A tad parsimonious perhaps, but surely there’s a happy compromise.
It would be better all-round if the emphasis was on those sports which see the Olympics as their Holy Grail. The ultimate showcase for those athletes who give it their all.
The runners, rowers, swimmers, gymnasts, boxers, wrestlers, weightlifters, archers and more. That is, Olympians in the truest sense of the world.
We all know what it means to them. You could see it on the faces of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy. Sport at its purest, the Olympics at their most compelling.
Still, the image of Ireland taking on South Africa for hurling gold at the Games of the XXXVIII Olympiad is a hard one to dislodge. Stranger things. Well, almost.