Jana Drama 8: Every Move Wrong

It’s time to stop being silly, Jana
Sydney Morning Herald

March 15, 2006

JANA Pittman has backed herself into a corner and every move she seems to make from that position is the wrong one. Her decision to pull out of her pivotal part in the Queen’s Baton relay is very sad and another silly move in a series of silly moves.

I’m told Jana has injury concerns or concerns about her body. She could have walked her leg of the relay late yesterday. All that was required of her was 400 or 500 metres of a very slow jog or, as I said, a walk.

I suspect the real reason had more to do with emotional concerns - she was worried about how Melburnians would respond to her. Maybe she thought she’d get booed. She might have had some fool have a go at her but if you live in public, that’s something you have to put up with, inconsequential people who have nothing to do but pick on celebrities.

Jana has to be tougher than that. She has got to stop worrying about what other people think about her. I saw her on television the other day and she had this sad, little “poor me” face. Laugh, Jana. Smile. Mix it up a little. Surprise people, keep them guessing.

If you consider all the incidents that have dogged her in recent times, they are all pretty inconsequential but they all add up to one big issue. I really felt all that rubbish had been put behind her. We had the rubbish of two silly girls bitching at each other when one - and I’m talking about Jana - is a genuinely talented athlete with a truly bright future.

:rolleyes: I couldn’t say whether or not Jana is receiving bad advice because I’m not sure she takes advice. She listens to people but I’m not sure she acts upon their advice.

Jana has to tell herself to to get herself together and get out there and run and clear the slate. She has to remind herself she is young, she is talented and that she has got the world ahead of her.

I truly hope she runs next week and that she runs well. I’m not sure whether you ever completely clear the slate in the eyes of the public once you’ve turned them off but a good performance at the MCG would be a big help.

I am looking forward to the race from the point of view of how Jana handles it. The challenge for her is not the race itself but how she handles it and whether she can keep her focus on it.

But the event I’m most looking forward to is the one that takes place tonight at the MCG - the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony. To me, it symbolises the final adrenalin rush before the competition starts. As a competing athlete, I never missed one opening ceremony.

I will always remember my last Commonwealth Games opening ceremony because it was Brisbane and I carried the Queen’s Message. I kept the secret right up until the last minute. I ran into Glynis Nunn in the village, she was competing the next day, and she couldn’t work out why I was still there. I just shrugged and said I couldn’t be bothered going and next thing I was picked up and put in a caravan outside the QEII Stadium until the last minute.

I still remember the stadium erupting. It was unbelievable. I thought it would be the last time I would be in a stadium at a ceremony like that so it felt very special but of course I had the experience of the Sydney Olympic opening almost 20 years later.

Walking out with Betty Cuthbert in the last phase of the torch relay was pretty incredible and my everlasting memory of that night was Betty’s face when she turned around to me and there were tears streaming down.

What we are experiencing in Melbourne today is pretty much Sydney all over again. All the negativity leading up to the Games seems to be dissipating and a huge excitement is taking over the city.

Remember the lead-up to Sydney. There was talk about poor ticket sales; that the venues wouldn’t be ready, that we’d spent too much money, that there were problems in the village whether it was too far away or the beds weren’t long enough or that there was no air conditioning. Air conditioning! I don’t remember every being in a village that had air conditioning. And, of course, there are always the political issues.

But then suddenly everything whirs into action and we have this collective realisation of: ‘Wow! This is really going to work.’ As a community this seems to happen a lot. And Sydney turned out to be the biggest and best Olympics we’ve ever seen and I have no doubt Melbourne is quite capable of proving the biggest and best Commonwealth Games.

In fact, I’m beginning to think that that is the way of Australians, this is the way we build up to big events. It’s something of a national characteristic. We criticise and pick holes in a big event before we just let our hair down and celebrate. Geez, we’re cynical bastards at times.