The fine line between success and failure was graphically illustrated in the match between Manchester City and Manchester United played this weekend.
With only a few minutes to go the sports journalists were shown preparing the headlines as they thought is was all over for Manchester City. ‘Chokers’ was one headline being prepared. If Manchester City had lost that match there wouldn’t have been a good word to be said about Mancini and his players. The results they had attained all season leading up to this match would have counted for nothing. All the hard work and training would be discounted. They would have been regarded as failures.
Minutes later, how it had all changed. Two goals later, how it had all changed. The sports journalists had to re write their headlines. Mancini was a hero, his players were heroes. Is it fair that this should be the case? Well yes, I think it is.
There is this very British attitude of ‘it’s taking part that counts’ . You try telling that to the losing finalist at Wimbledon, try telling it to the trainer whose horse has lost by a nose at the Derby, try telling that to the athlete who won a silver medal instead of the coveted gold medal at the Olympics. Look at the difference in the body language between those coming first and those who have come second. Do you think the sports person that has just come second is thinking ‘it’s taking part that counts’
I remember being at a tennis tournament for under 8’s when a young lad came bounding up to his father that I was chatting to. ‘Dad, Dad’ said the excited young lad ‘I’ve come runner up’. His dad replied ‘No such thing as runners up lad, there’s winners and losers’. Rather harsh you might think but his dad was a keen sportsman and he knew the difference between first place and second place and he was toughening up his young son to make him go that extra mile.
Do you know that at the 2004 Athens Olympics the difference between 5 gold and 5 silver medals was 0.545 seconds? The difference in the 800 metres where Kelly Holmes won the gold medal was 0.05 seconds between her and the athlete who won the silver medal. Who can forget the look on her face when she crossed the finishing line and the sudden realisation that she had at last won gold.
So do all the hours of training and hardship and maybe even some failures along the way seem worth it when success finally comes? You bet they do.
These principles can be applied to anything we do in life but for the moment let’s just celebrate an event that showed sport at its best.
I’m off to my Italian lesson tonight where the only other pupil is a Manchester City supporter but my Italian tutor’s husband is a life long United supporter. I should learn some very interesting phrases in Italian tonight…!