For every medal celebrated there are dozens who didn’t make the podium.
If the medallists were winners, were the others losers?
The obvious, if superficial, response is, “Of course not.” Many have overcome great challenges and deterrents just to be there, and are therefore winners in their own right. In fact, before the question is answered, the definition of winning (and losing) needs to be spelled out. What is winning? It’s by no means standard, even at the Olympics: some win by being first across the line or to the end of the pool. For other sports, you need to hammer the other guy, or bullseye the arrow, or dance your horse the best, or be the best kickflipper, or maximise air time and minimise horizontal travel (as in the trampoline)!
Golds come in all sorts of packages.
One commentator made a telling comment (although was probably just trying to mitigate disappointment at a poor result) by saying, “You actually learn a lot more from failing than you can by succeeding.” Which is probably true, but no real consolation for the loser.
An aphorism of my dad was influential in my thinking (and so I used it often on my own kids): “It’s far better to have played and lost, than not to have played at all.” Very true.
And my old school motto was Per Angusta, ad Augusta. Google Translate it.
Perseverance against the odds surely counts. Emma Twigg deserves a shout. She came ninth in her first Olympics, fourth in the next two, and, deciding she’d reached her Everest, retired. But she reconsidered. Reckoned she had more to give. So started training again in 2018 and, at 34 years of age, has just won gold at Tokyo.
Through the years, much has been written about winning and losing. And persevering against the odds. But here’s a fictional story that has always inspired me. Put it into your own context, and be inspired.
True winning performances are seldom rewarded, or even recognised as such. But you know when you’ve done one. And God knows. Winning is really about overcoming. And you just never know who else might be watching.