Gail Emms Column: “Tokyo 2020 Olympic stars should be the role models we show to youths”

Olympic badminton silver medalist Gail Emms explains why youngsters should look at Team GB athletes for inspiration, rather than reality TV stars.

As I write this ahead of Tokyo 2020’s (albeit subdued) opening ceremony on 23rd July, it will be a huge relief to many that after training in solitary conditions, restrictions on travel and a postponement for a year, the games will commence.

Athens 2004 was my first Olympics for badminton and I remember the huge pride I felt – and emotions – when I walked around the Olympic village wearing the Team GB tracksuit.

I was 27 years old and I thought about all the people who kept me going when I found it tough and questioned whether it was all worth it.

The Olympic Games will always hold special memories for me… I remember at 15 years old watching Sally Gunnell
win 400m hurdles in Barcelona 1992, screaming at the TV with my mum and watching her with the gold medal on the podium and I said, “I want to be an Olympian.”

Dreams are made from watching others achieve. We need inspirational moments of sportsmen and women from around the world that have battled adversity, overcome the biggest obstacles and never gave up when the odds were stacked up against them.

These are the role models we should be celebrating and showing to the younger generation – no offence to Love Island 😉

Athletes are not superhuman… they are beautifully and wonderfully the same as everyone else.

It is about mindset that sets them apart. It is that determination to practice when no-one else is, it is about changing the feeling of failing into learning, and it is about working as a team with people to help maximise potential.

Everyday choices that seem hard at the start but eventually become good habits. The choice to be better every day. The choice to the best you.

We have local representatives in Tokyo as well – let’s get behind them and do MK proud.

Come on Team GB!

This feature was published in the August/September 2021 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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