Like many of you, I have been obsessed with the Rio Olympics. I have marvelled at the skill and commitment of the athletes who have worked so hard to reach the finals and have been in awe of the medal winners and their achievements. Athletes like Mo Farah, Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and of course, the one and only Usain Bolt appear almost super human.
Unfortunately, not everyone can win gold and we witnessed some heart breaking images of athletes missing out on a gold medal by the merest fraction. Many where distraught and reduced to fits of tears, as they realised that their Olympic dream had turned into a nightmare.
Lutalo Muhammad is an example of this. Lutalo was within one second of achieving his ambition of winning the gold medal in Taekwondo. He was leading his opponent (Cheick Sallah Cisse from the Ivory Coast), until the unthinkable happened and he was kicked in the head in the last second. It was unbelievable. Lutalo was devastated. He stood in the middle of the mat in total disbelief.
Somehow, he managed to summon up the energy to give an interview to television literally seconds later. It was heart wrenching.
Lutalo was so distraught that he could hardly talk. It was very uncomfortable to watch but most of us had nothing but admiration and sympathy for him. Unfortunately, he received criticism from others, because he was crying in public. Some have suggested that this was not the ‘manly’ thing to do and he should ‘toughen’ up… Nonsense!
Listen, there is nothing wrong with men crying and showing emotion in public.
Suicide is the biggest cause of death for young men in the UK. Experts have described it as a ‘national health emergency’ as the suicide rates continue to rise. If men are not a lot to express their emotions, it can lead to depression and other mental health issues. Research published by the charity CALM states that ‘four in ten men have considered taking their lives at some point’.
It is clear that there is a crisis of masculinity and what it means to be a man, and the narrow definition of what a man is, that’s the problem.
I am going to talk about this more in my next article and highlight some solutions.
Finally, Lutalo Muhammad, you are a hero and I salute you.
Stay focused and stay blessed.
Photo Credit: jidaley