I will not forget that moment I died at London 2012.
I arrived in London I had a classy hotel room — I was so underwhelmed it killed me. I couldn’t believe the nonchalance I felt. Where did I go wrong?
Five years earlier, I arrived in London for the first time, I lived with my family for the most part as I was a “starving artist” at best — I had nosedived into this sports journalism jungle with no training or education in this field.
It was a wild dream birthed into my heart one night in Melbourne in 2007; and a month later I took off to Europe — where all the football action is at and two years prior, London had won the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games.
Reporting at the Olympic Games is considered the pinnacle for everyone in the sports media and journalism industry. I know of journalists who slaved 10 years at a paper to get an accreditation to the Games, and just as many who slaved all their life without stepping foot into one Games at all.
I thought 5 years was as ridiculous a goal — but still I could just as well spend a year in London to at least know the city enough to have a shot.
That maiden year in London, I was invited to Glasgow by Hilary whom I worked alongside with at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Glasgow was hosting the 2007 World Badminton Teams Championships. I had not known who she is — she headed events at Scotland Badminton, or who she would later become — she was chosen to head the sport at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The sports entertainment industry is a tough one for girls to excel in, and Hilary presented me both the opportunity and inspiration to take a chance.
Even as I made many media rookie mistakes in my first gig in Glasgow but, a year later, a London magazine reached out to me after picking up my resume online. They offered me a cool gig to cover the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games but due to limited credentials, I was only offered a ‘side-reporting’ accreditation from the event’s Press Center instead of being on court-side.
Fair enough, as it was still an amazing first Olympics experience. At 23, just a year into my sports media career, I already had an elusive Olympic Games in my portfolio — if it was not divine favour I don’t know what is.
Every fiber in me was anticipating to be at the London 2012 Games, and I knew the 2008 experience would definitely have put me in pole position to land me a gig to be reporting from court-side. So I diligently worked towards that.
In 2011, just a year before the Games, I was offered a media job within the Olympic family that will not just bring me to the Games but to manage and run it from the top. I naively thought I had arrived.
The next thing I knew, I was traveling the world to Olympic qualifying events and I even had the privilege to hand out accreditation to media who would otherwise never have the chance to be reporting at an Olympic Games.
And I was barely 26.
The starving artist days were well over. I launched the hottest digital platforms. It was wild.
But 3 months into the job I was bruised, 6 months into it I was battered. The thing is, it is not unexpected when given access to that level of public (and very political) work. The problem was always with me.
As good the work I was doing, I was unable to fight the fight. I did not know how to light up the state of enveloping darkness. Good publicity or bad publicity, praise or criticism, I have to rise above all of that to take hold of the work we get to do for the good of the many who will benefit from it.
“It’s not about you.” A boss I absolutely respect said this to me, not in the context of faith, but I heard him/Him.
I learned at the 2012 Olympic Games that the world has a very different take on what justice is. It’s not a right or wrong, it’s a matter of who’s in power and in control of the narrative. So when the Games ended, I was resolved to take a break from this career I knew I was so graced and purposed for, until I figure out how did I go from being so ready for this moment to then find myself all so lost.
I was 27. I have lived my dreams and beyond. I have two Olympic Games to my name and had everything I could ask for in this industry.
Except, I failed to recognize I was at “war” and I had no armour on and I was out there on the frontline. I was doing great work but. With war, you do not get surprised when you get a lot of “hate”, “backstabbing”, and you make a lot of real “enemies” (and “trolls”). In fact, if you were to stand for anything, you would. Being called out, public shaming at press conferences, there was a lot of scrutiny and public slandering that was paralysing — I was lacking in conviction and fear took over me (yes, again). That’s when you lose ground and even as you know you cannot please everybody or win every battle, you feel all but crippled, and forget who you are.
That I am a child of an extraordinary God, and I was broken clay.
This story is part of the #livebig series here.