In the lead up to Beijing, the inevitable discussion arises concerning who will win all the medals and will it be this time that Gold will come to the Pacific.
Not since Atlanta 1996 has a Pacific Island nation won a medal at the Olympic Games. That of course went to Paea Wolfgramm representing Tonga in Boxing.
Eric Fonoimoana, representing the USA, an American Samoan made Gold in Beach Volleyball and others such as Greg Louganis with Pacific Islander heritage have achieved medals for other countries, but alas the Pacific Islands remain in the Great Medal Desert.
Countries all talk up their chances though and that is the nature of sport. PNG pin their hopes on Dika Toua in weightlifting and Ryan Pini in swimming. Both medal winners at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and fine young athletes. Fiji quietly hope for Glenn Kable to come through in shooting or that a surprise packet comes in the form of Sililia Nasiga in Judo. Others get a mention such as Manuel Mingenfel (FSM) in weightlfting, Itte Detenamo (NRU) in weightlifting, Ele Opelongi (SAM) in weightlifting and who knows, anything can happen in a sport competition.
The Olympic reality can best be described as 'tough love'. The gap between nations that win medals and those who dont is simply enormous.
At the Athens Games in 2004, with around 301 Gold medals up for grabs, only 57 countries out of 202 were able to win a Gold Medal. In fact only 74 countries could win any medal, less than half of the competing nations.
From Oceania, our neighbours and friends from Australia finished 4th overall with 17 Gold, 16 silver and 16 bronze medals, considered an outstanding achievement. New Zealand secured 3 gold 1 silver and 4 bronze to hold down 24th spot on the medal table. Also a great performance.
Half of the Gold medals were secured by just 7 nations or about 3.5% of the competing nations while half of the overall medals won were secured by just 8 nations. Now this puts things in perspective a bit doesn't it.
The reality is an Olympic Medal is pretty darn hard to come by and so there has to be more.
Well there is. For every competing athlete at the Games who completes their event in whatever place, they earn the title of 'Olympian'. It is a special title, one that should be earned with dedication, sweat and sheer hard work on top of talent and an ounce of luck.
To all our Olympians may you stand tall and look the world right in the eye. This is your time....