Friday, August 22, 2008

Keeping It Light?: Thoughts On Cheryl's Competition

Many people have emailed me to ask how Cheryl did and how she is feeling about her competition, which is kind of a tricky question to answer, I am finding, especially in the format of this blog. Of course, it is my intention as a filmmaker to answer this question in a thorough and compelling way that goes far beyond the types of answers one would normally provide in simple conversations (ie, "She's disappointed, but doing well; she's determined to come back for London 2012; she's done with the sport and relieved that it's over, etc...)... The great thing about documentary making, is that the answer can be all of those things at once, that a complicated, visceral, moody, poignant sense of things can be developed given enough time, skill, and footage. And so the answer to the question will therefore have to wait (and weight) until the film is complete.

But, in order to do justice to the event here in the blog, I will say this:

I think that for all of us who felt the stakes of Cheryl's competition in Beijing, including and especially Cheryl herself, the results were disappointing. We all know that Cheryl can lift, and has lifted, much more weight than she did on August 16, 2008. We feel frustrated at the injuries she's experienced in the past year and a half, and at at those injuries' evasive demands to move slowly with the training - too slowly to allow Cheryl to hit her maximum potential last week. There is speculation: was it all the walking at the Olympic Village that hurt her? Was it the cold she developed the day before her competition?

It's easy to think about these things and harder to feel about them. How does Cheryl feel? I think that this is something that will take some time for her to sort out. There is always to tendency for most people including Cheryl to smooth over pain and difficulty, to not admit the real challenge of things as they are happening.

My job, as documentarian, is to witness as honestly I can and to not get too involved in trying to insist on keeping it light, though it's temping sometimes, to remind myself and the others who might not know so much about what elite weightlifting means that Cheryl placed 6th - highest of any American lifter male or female, and that in spite of the disappointment there is certainly a huge amount to be proud of too in what Cheryl has accomplished both on and off the platform.

1 comment:

Susanne Rockwell said...

Good job in explaining a complicated question. Enjoyed your nuances. Can't wait for the film...