This year, in addition to an extra day in February, we have the quadrennial experience of a summer Olympic Games. For those of us interested in watching sport at the highest level, the two weeks of Olympic competition is a treat indeed. For those wishing to compete, it promises potential joy and heartbreak. The media will be full of selection quandaries and decisions over the coming weeks. Already, we have Old Wesley Collegians selected. It is a magnificent achievement even to compete.

Moderator Emma Carney (OW1989) with guest speakers Michael Klim OAM (OW1994), Elle Steele (OW2001) and Jodie Dobson (OW1987) at the 2024 Founders' Day Lunch

Many readers will be aware of the Olympic motto. For many years, it was Citius, Altius, Fortius, which means 'Faster, Higher, Stronger'. I wonder how many around the world are aware it changed recently to 'Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together'. This message of unity is badly needed in the world today. When the Ancient Olympics were on, a truce was observed. Would that such an experience of peaceful togetherness be possible later this year.

In reminding myself of the Latin for the Olympic motto, I came across the Olympic creed: 'The important thing in life is not the triumph but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well'.

In Australia, with a long history of Olympic success, we have lost sight a little bit of the above. Caught up as we are in medal tallies, and comparisons with other countries based on the rather spurious notion that the number of medals won is somehow a measure of worth, we sometimes forget the simple joy of competition, of performance for its own sake, of the extraordinary achievement in simply being selected for an Olympic team, of the satisfaction that comes from seeking to be faster, higher, stronger.

It is, alas, all too easy to be caught up in this, even at school. One of my regrets in my sporting life stemmed from placing too high an importance on the results of a sporting contest, rather than the experience of the fight. There is far more heartbreak than joy in sport, if winning is the most important criteria. There can, after all, be only one winner in any competition.

It has been my lot in life over the past two years to console First crews, both boys and girls, who expected to win the Head of the River but came agonisingly short. My message to both was the same. You did your best, and all the rest is uncontrollable. I was, in my youth and to my enduring regret, driven by results rather than simply doing my best.

We play sport at Wesley College for the lessons it provides about the development of character, the fostering of resilience and the understanding that life is not always fair and that you don’t always get what you deserve. I find disappointment a more exacting but more successful teacher of these traits than success. There are other ways of inculcating such traits, but none as efficient. I will continue to hope, and to push, for sport at Wesley College to be about the fight, not the triumph.

I congratulate each of the Old Wesley Collegians already selected for the Paris Olympics, and those whose selection is still in the balance. Regardless of the results, they can take great pride in competing at such an extraordinary level. I hope they go higher and faster than ever before and take joy in the fight.

Nick Evans (OW1985)

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