Daily Recco, June 23: The heavy weight of the Olympic gold
On International Olympic Day today, watch The Weight of Gold to see the price that the prized medal extracts out of each player.
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The pandemic brought with a barrage of baggage — physical and psychological. Among the worst affected are those who were accustomed to very social and active life. Confinement wreaked havoc on their mental wellbeing and took with it more than a pound of flesh. Take for instance the athletes. Especially the Olympic athletes, who are seen as beings with superhuman strength and unattainable talent.
It takes a lot to open about your mental health issues, especially when you are a public figure and more so if you are a celebrity. The most recent case in point was that of tennis star Naomi Osaka, who openly voiced her struggle and shed the spotlight on mental health in sports.
While mental health challenges were always a part of their job, thanks to the immense pressure to grab the gold, when the pandemic has postponed the 2020 Tokyo Games — the first such postponement in Olympic history — it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
In the wake of all these issues and to give the sportspersons a platform and a voice, HBO Sports documentary The Weight of Gold was made in 2020. Not only does it give them a platform to speak their issues out, but it also helps them become a voice for those who have been reluctant in addressing their mental health. It encourages people to speak up and seek help.
Along the lines similar to Osaka but more specific to Olympics, The Weight of Gold features interviews by Michael Phelps, Apolo Ohno, Shaun White, Lolo Jones, Gracie Gold, Katie Uhlaender, Bode Miller, David Boudia, Jeremy Bloom, Sasha Cohen, and, posthumously, Steven Holcomb and Jeret "Speedy" Peterson (via his mother, Linda Peterson). Each of them shares their battles in facing their demons and dealing with them.
Narrated by Olympic legend and executive producer Michael Phelps, The Weight of Gold is directed by Emmy Award-winning director Brett Rapkin. Phelps goes to great lengths to detail the extraordinary dedication it takes for a sportsperson to get to the Olympics platform. And then there is the overwhelming reality of having reached there. But the stride does not end there. Reaching the top spot in the world of sports seems almost a cakewalk when it comes to the challenge of sustaining stability once they are there.
The Weight of Gold does not deify the Olympians. In fact, it does quite the opposite. With each testimony, the Olympians become more and more relatable and make them, well… human. An apt documentary to watch on Amazon Prime Video on International Olympic Day today.