Monday, November 21, 2011
The Silver Fern
Never been to New Zealand. Want to go. People speak very highly of the country, its people and landscape.
Watching the Auckland World Cup over the weekend, on the great live feed from Nz Tv, reinforced my desire to visit. I was taken away by the crowds on hand for it. The numbers looked to be similar to Hamburg, people lining the streets over the entire bike!
Some might feel 'home field advantage' doesn't play a factor in triathlon. I think this weekends results beg to differ. From Hewitt's and Gemmell's victories to Davisons and Adams hard nosed efforts, the Kiwi's dictated and dominated the event. Hard work and talent were obviously key to the outcomes, but that extra % was pumped through their veins from the '6th man' so to speak. The desire to give back to the crowd could not be matched by others just racing for points.
As Bevan is quoted post race: "It was a great race for New Zealand"
The media's attention to the event was even more impressive. Interviews and press galore surrounded the race weeks leading out to front page papers the day after.
It's no surprise that NZ rates as one of the top medal/capita countries each Olympiad. The people love sport and love to embrace it. All sports too, for a rugby crazed nation they remain open minded to endurance feats just the same.
What sociological factors make Kiwis this way?
One guess comes from a story a friend who backpacked there once told me. Traveling the south island, he would often work under the table at sheep farms to fund his trip and lengthen it out. Essentially living there for 6 months he began to see their values in life. He felt Kiwis tended not to place emphasis on personal prizes such as fancy cars or high salary jobs. They drove a car that got them from point A to B, serving purpose. Value was placed on health and family. With health and family they had love and happiness, and that's all that life needed. He saw sport to them was an outlet to join health and family together, whether it was touch 7's or a hike together in the mountains.
Having such simple values in life perhaps prepares kiwi athletes to perform to their best. They don't get sidetracked by sponsors, and they don't compete for themselves, they compete for a cause and are driven by it.
Bravo to Gemmell for his cause for cancer. It helped him get to that finish line first.