It started on Monday night. Felix Sanchez, Olympic Champion in 2004 ran the race of his life and regained his crown 8 years on. Come the medal ceremony, he stood behind the podium, his eyes welling up, his lips a quiver, the commentator struggling to remember the last time an Olympic champion sobbed his way to receiving his medal.
The Tuesday came. Chris Hoy stepped up to the track for the Keirin. A race of strength and lottery in equal measure. His mum could barely watch. We thought he’d lost it as Max Levy briefly took the lead on the last lap. And then in the favoured words of the commentators he “put on the afterburners” and took the race. Now the most successful British Olympian, the pressure was on as much as it was off. This gentle giant couldn’t contain himself either as he stood up to reveive his medal his eyes welling up and by the anthem the tears had fallen.
So why comment on this? As men crying is far too often seen as a sign of weakness. Yet these two men are not weak. Winning an Olympic champion takes strength, physical and mental, to prepare and hold it together whilst pursuing their target. So this outpouring of emotion is a natural thing, a healthy process and a much needed release.
Boys don’t cry? Don’t believe the hype. It is fine for us men to cry, it’s actually the stuff of champions.