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Dropping the C-bomb

Swimmer Emily Seebohm ‘blames’ social media content for only getting a silver medal at the London Olympics

Let’s face it, for most of us the thought of winning a silver medal at the Olympic Games is so far-fetched that we could never seriously consider it. And if we did ever find ourselves on the dais with a chunk of shiny ribbon-attached silver around our necks, chances are we’d fall straight off again from the shock.

Which is what sets elite athletes apart from the rest of us. They have the natural (or super-natural) ability, they have the drive and the dedication and they have the belief that they belong in that rarefied level competition. And, clearly, they also have different expectations of themselves – which would explain why Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm was disappointed with her silver-medal performance at the London Olympics overnight.

Seebohm entered the 100m backstroke final as the hottest of favourites after breaking the Olympic Record during her heat swim and producing another stellar time in the semi-final. But despite swimming in lane 4, the young Aussie couldn’t repeat her best form, finishing second to American Missy Franklin.

Seebohm was in tears during her post-race interview and although time granted her some perspective (‘Silver is nothing to be ashamed of,’ she said later. ‘I’m happy I finished with a medal and I get to take something home with me. It gives me a lot of motivation to keep swimming. I’m definitely really proud of what I have achieved and what I had to come through’), it also posed some interesting questions – not least did the 20-year-old spend too much time on social media in the lead-up to the race?

Believing the social media hype

Seebohm herself has suggested she not only spent too much time tweeting and posting on Facebook about her gold medal prospects, but that she also bought into the social media-generated hype:

‘I don’t know, I just felt like I didn’t really get off [social media] and get into my own mind,’ she said. ‘I have said a lot that all I need to do is focus on my own race. But when people start telling you are going to win gold, you are going to start believing it. When they tell you a thousand times you are going to get it, somewhere in your mind you are just like, “I’ve done it”. But I hadn’t and that was a big learning curve and I obviously need to sign out of Twitter and log out of Facebook a lot sooner than I did.

‘It’s [social media] what we do. We like to tell people what we are doing and what we are up to, and people love to know. But it’s hard sometimes. You want to tell people how you are feeling, but …’

Emily Seebohm has, of course, achieved something remarkable. But it is interesting that she suggest that the addictive nature of social media content may have cost her the ultimate prize. If she’s right, it seems the C-bomb – the content bomb – may have blown up in her face…

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