Australia’s winning culture as toxic as ever

Anyone passionately following the Commonwealth Games headlines will likely be feeling  a fair bit of animosity towards Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm.

Seebohm

Image: Sydney Morning Herald

According to popular news outlets news.com.au and the Sydney Morning Herald Seebohm ‘blamed the media’ for her performances at the Games, where she took out silver in the 100 metre backstroke and bronze in the 200 metre backstroke.

Funnily enough Seebohm did take fire at the media, but it wasn’t to deflect blame for her performances. The true source of Seebohm’s indignation stemmed from the fact that the media downplayed her medal winning feats as disappointments.

“After the 100m yesterday I felt happy with it but I felt media-wise it was a bigger deal that I didn’t get gold, that it wasn’t an achievement to win silver,” she said.

“For me it was like downgrading my achievement.

“I felt lacking in confidence, like silver wasn’t good enough but I know I did the best race I could.”

It appears Seebohm may have a point, especially when you consider she was defeated in both aforementioned events by Canadian world champion Kylie Masse. The media’s initial reports and attempts to redirect blame to Seebohm speaks volumes of what has frankly become a toxic obsession with winning at all costs in this country.

If the past few weeks of Australian sport have taught us anything, it should surely be that fair contest and pride should be the pillars of sporting culture at the grassroots and on the world stage. Sadly, it appears we have learnt little since Cape Town and we are left with a public that reads only headlines and media franchises that set little to no value on second place.

Seebohm’s current Games haul is five gold, four silver and four bronze. She will compete in the 50m backstroke and 4x100m medley relay.

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