You may have won the gold but you’ve pretty much lost a whole nation.
Sam Gaze…what have you done? It’s a downright shame for you and all your support team, but you are now competing with David Warner for the title of the most despised sportsperson in Australasia.
One of the worst things being that the medal ceremony should have been one of the absolute highlights of your whole life, yet it will almost certainly be etched in your memory as one of the worst.
And that is an absolute tragedy. I bet you would trade the gold medal for the chance to take it all back (surely). A movie script writer couldn’t have written a scene any better where a winner fouls things up so badly post-victory. It was honestly that ugly. On top of that, you completely ruined the ceremony for Anton Cooper and probably also for the poor old South African guy in third place.
So Anton didn’t really pull up after your puncture- I’ve never heard of anyone else doing so in a major mountain biking event; in a pedal through the forest on a Sunday morning maybe. Things like the Tour De France are different to your one-off race. It’s a tradition to go a bit slower if the leader strikes a gear problem. Tours are an event of many weeks duration; there is no ultimate victor after one stage. Meaning that in one-off races, it is every racer for him or her self. For example, I have never seen anyone bother hanging around for the leader to catch up with the lead peloton again in a criterium. Actually, can you imagine something like Sebastian Vettel stopping for his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen if Raikkonen were leading an F1 race and had to pit for a puncture? Come on.
I think the closer truth is that in that really unfortunate moment with the puncture, you couldn’t handle/stomach the thought of Anton grabbing the gold again and leaving you agonisingly once more with silver. That was the genesis of your rage, I reckon. Not the fact that he ‘ignored’ what appears to be a practically non-existent mountain biking etiquette.
And yet, you still won the gold medal. But you chose to launch a cutting, supremely graceless diatribe, and throwing that flag was the stuff of an absolute brat. Even if there is sour past history between you and Cooper you should have been a lot more restrained. Did you forget you were wearing the black singlet, for god’s sake? You should have been basking in the fact that you launched an incredible comeback and killed that race. You won brilliantly but you chose to go down the path of the sorest loser imaginable. What a king-sized cock up.
You might also find that potential new sponsors will not want to touch you with a barge pole. I hope you one day find some inner-peace as a way through this whole vitriolic event, but you may have to repent a bit more first because so many are seriously cheesed-off with you right now.
Don’t let this whole episode define your career. Come back improbably with grace and prove that you are a far better man than we saw so horribly the other day. Most importantly, you surely owe that to yourself at least.