by Stuart McMillan
One thought has dominated my mind the last couple of weeks.
In a period where we have seen most countries hold their Olympic Trials. In a time when England has lost. In penalties. Again. A time when Wales lost in rugby by a point. Twice. When Nadal lost at Wimbledon. When USAIN BOLT got beat. TWICE.
This has been a time where we have seen a lot of LOSERS.
As I write this, a group of folks are meeting in a small hotel conference room by Heathrow to determine the 2012 UKA Olympic Team. And in so doing, will spit out not only those fortunate few who will have fulfilled their dream of competing at this most special of Games, but also a long list of losers. The unfortunate many who didn’t quite make it. Those who will be watching the Olympics at home. On TV. Separated from the other few billion only by space. And no longer by expertise.
There is one sure thing in sport. You will lose. Often. In athletics, this is even more the reality. Better get used to it. Because chances are, you will lose a heck of a lot more than you win. At some point - even for the best in the world - you will begin to lose. A lot. You could be the world-beating junior who moves up to the senior ranks. You could be the dominant senior approaching the end of his career, or beginning to struggle with injuries. You could be Usain Bolt, who all of a sudden has a stable-mate that has seemingly by-passed him.
Robert Frost summed up life in three words: “It goes on”
I love the simplicity in this. Not only does it go on, but it will usually get better. Any champion - in any endeavor - has spent a lot of time losing. Ask them. The freak-show that comes along once every couple of generations is the exception. Not the rule. For every Edwin Moses. Michael Johnson. Usain Bolt. There are hundreds of thousands who lose. And improve. It is those who are best equipped to deal with losing that ultimately succeed. We ALWAYS learn more from our losses than from our wins. Logic dictates that those who lose more, learn more.
For me, you’re only a true loser if you don’t learn from your losses. If you don’t get back up. A true loser will not learn anything from losing. And carry the pattern of that loss forward. If you CHOOSE to LEARN from losing, you cannot help but to become better.
There will be a lot of anger among British athletes tomorrow. A lot of tears. And frustration. Perhaps blame. A few excuses. Most of these losers will have a rough week. Maybe a rough month. But they will learn. And improve. And come back stronger. And in so doing, will become winners.
"the art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them".