Writing prevaricative five hundred word essays in response to random questions?
And even then, on the only thing I’m well practiced in, it would very much depend on the judging criteria (I’d probably do better in a sprint than an artistically judged competition, for example).
Realistically, even that would be something that other people can probably do better. Actual elite level sport (like actual elite level anything) is something you have to have put so many hours into, that it’s unlikely there’s anything competitive that I’ve done the groundwork for. Perhaps lying in bed, delaying getting up? Maybe being horrifically hungover? I used to have a fair few hours of being intensely stoned experience under my belt, but I’m out of practice now.
There’s this Gladwell concept (presented in the book Outliers) that in order to become a ‘genius’ at anything, the only real requirement is to have done it for 10,000 hours. It is supposed to be inspiring, letting you know that all you actually need to do to get really, phenomenally good at something, is put in the practice. I suppose it is positive, but I just can’t help but think of how my attitude to life encourages me to potter about and do a few hours of random things here and there. Dedication is not me.
I don’t think its all it takes to actually get Olympian though. I think there’s slightly more than that to it. There’s physical weirdnesses that’s always going to be a factor. This probably means that some advantages are genetic, or at least that training has to commence (‘correctly’) from a very young age. This is more true of the deeply physical sports (gymnastics, swimming etc) than the more skill based ones (shooting, for example), but its definitely there as a thing.
To be perfect at these things, you can’t just practice, your body has to be right. Some of this can be done through training, but I’ll bet that a lot of it comes down to genetics. You have to have been randomly assigned the best body in the first place. Or at least the right body.
Look at these people. They are like machines with one purpose, bodies perfect, in a very specific way. It’s the marvel of the adaptable human body, but its also a combination of luck and training. We have sports schemes for finding the people with the unlikely genetics, and train and convince them that this weird, abstract competition is important enough to dedicate a life to.
I envy being that good at something, but I wouldn’t want to give over my life in that way. I don’t want to be obsessively dedicated to anything, really.
I complain (not an olympic sport) about my life feeling pointless, but in fact, I do still have the freedom to play at being lots of different things. I can still run, swim, dance and jump.
Not very well, but its still fun.
I’ll never be brilliant.
And that’s okay.
Illustration by Adam