Loser's Medals 得奖的失落

Vocabulary: Mental pressure 詞匯:精神壓力

Image copyright BBC World Service
Image caption Do high expectations put pressure on athletes?

The Olympic medal ceremonies have already begun. But some athletes hardly disguise their disappointment when silver and not gold is hung around their necks. The British judo silver medallist Neil Adams calls his two from the 1980s 'loser's medals'.

Until four years ago, they were in a box at the back of a cupboard. His wife then had them framed for his 50th birthday and they are now up on the wall.

Adams feels proud when he looks at them, but his thoughts quickly turn to 'what ifs'. "I wouldn't change much", he adds. And he wouldn't need to. Gold was within his grasp twice, but slipped away by a narrow margin on the judo mat.

"The losses at the Olympic Games were the most difficult thing for me to accept," he said. "I didn't win the silver medal. I lost the gold. In my mind they were losses. It has taken more than 30 years to get over it."

Mark Cavendish, Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah have never won Olympic gold, but they came into London 2012 as three of Team GB's biggest medal hopes. Unfortunately, Cavendish has already suffered disappointment in the cycling road race. Neil Adams was in that same position in both the 1980 and 1984 games. However, in a career in which he collected every other judo accolade, things simply went wrong at the Olympics.

In Moscow 1980, Adams was just 21 years old and found the media focus and pressure of expectation too much.

Asked about being a favourite, Adams said: "It is hell, and about how you cope with it in the mind. It can make you afraid to win or lose and there is a difference. I was afraid to lose. Sometimes you freeze. Sometimes it takes you over."

Adams says that he was very cautious and that when something was tactical and technical he approached it too tactically. Perhaps it's better to go in with a 'nothing to lose' attitude. That might be the reason why the Olympic Games has often created surprise results. Sometimes it's the ones who keep their cool and work the hardest who get the results.