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Blood, sweat, and gold


Last Friday, I held an Olympic gold medal in my hands.

Apart from my job at, I also co-host a weekly sports talk show on Latvian Radio. We always ask our guests to bring an artefact for us to talk about and post a photo on our Instagram, and last week Latvia 3×3 basketball international Edgars Krūmiņš brought his Tokyo 2020 gold.

As I was holding it, it crossed my mind that it was perhaps the most valuable item that had ever touched my fingers. I do not mean £600, which is approximately the price of gold and silver that it is made of. Neither do I mean its potential auction worth that may vary from £40,000 to £200,000. And yes, I understand it is “priceless” as a token of honour, excellence and ultimate victory (over oneself in the first place).

But imagine the way that led to having this piece of shiny metal lying on my palm. All the early mornings and undone homework as a school kid. All the missed dates and sacrificed discos in high school. The rises, the falls, the doubts. Knocks, bruises, fractures, surgeries. Buckets of sweat spilt in the physio room. Long flights and bus travels, hotel rooms and sleepless nights. Spending more time with your teammates than with your family.

You get the idea.

And now I am weighing the epitome of it in my hand. It is unexpectedly heavy for a relatively small object. Something else differs from what I was expecting of an Olympic gold medal. I imagined it to be not just shiny, but impeccably polished, just short of a mirror, blinding if you wish.

This one is covered in scratches and dents. As if my ten-year-old son tossed it in his school bag in September together with keys, and coins, and pins, and pens, and took it out after the spring break.

So I ask Edgars, how come?

Well, when we came back home after the Olympics, everybody wanted to have us, children and grown-ups alike,” he tells me. “And we always took our medals with us so that everyone could hold it, touch it, take a photo.

But there was something else that the fans, delirious with joy, wanted to do with the medals. Something Krūmiņš and his team Latvia partners did themselves after winning that dramatic final 21-18 against ROC.

Bite it.

A good book has multiple layers of meaning for every reader to discover something different that resonates with his thoughts and feelings. Sports are just like that.

For athletes, it is all about becoming a better version of oneself. Coaches want to see their experience transformed into points, seconds and meters by another person. Bettors need sports for excitement and sometimes, for hope. Politics use sports to show what great leaders and cool guys they are. Sports journalists would not be able to feed their families without the Olympic Games and the UEFA Champions League.

But it is fans who rule sports with their hearts, eyes, feet, and teeth. For what else are sports, other than biting someone else’s medal?

I was there too. I left my mark too. It belongs to me too.

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