Strange times. As we, over generations, have moved toward a, supposedly, fairer and more equal society, where increasingly below average is accommodated and the highlighting of an individual’s inability to complete a given task is seen as bullying, it is in stark contrast to media, social and other, portrayals of what one’s expectations should be in life.
It is a day after one of the pinnacle events at an athletics meet. The World Athletics Championships are being hosted in London and the greatest and most dominant track and field personally of this century, Usain Bolt, is racing in his final major Championship. Having opted not to run in the two hundred metres, he will be anchoring the 4 x 100m relay and last night raced his last major 100m final.
If one has an interest in athletics there is maybe a chance that, if you are of a certain age, you will remember and recognise the names of Olympics and World Championships 100m gold medalist. Carl Lewis, Maurice Green, Linford Christie, Tyson Gay, Donovan Bailey, are all names associated with winning gold medals, all having captured the attention of the sporting world for ten seconds and the less than fifty strides it takes to cover one hundred metres.
In sport adequate is not acceptable. There are winners and then there is everybody else. In most championship races most would struggle to remember who came second. Last night’s race will be remembered for Bolt coming third and the twice banned drugs cheat, Justin Gatlin, winning. The win mattered to Gatlin, a man who had suffered more than most from being in the shadow of the larger than life Bolt. Always cast as the nemesis to the affable and clean star, Gatlin’s talent as a sprinter could not be ignored.
It was an emotional moment for Gatlin, tears streamed down his face at the realisation of beating the seemingly unbeatable Bolt in his swan song final. He did not care about the boos, the constant references to his two drug bans, or even the fact that the media had painted him as the pantomime villain to Bolt’s sprint king hero. He was a winner again, post bans.
Winning matters. There will always be those who try to say that it does not, that it is the kind of person you are.
If you are nice, happy, good to be around; a good egg, all of that is great for being an all around decent human being, But in life, people like and gravitate towards the winners.
When I say, winners, I am not talking just in terms of competitive sports. Bolt, regardless of last night’s result, is a winner. People want to be in his orbit in the hope that some of his stardust, his charisma, rubs off on them.
This is the same for any ‘winner’ in life. People want to know them, be around them, emulate their characteristics and why not, everybody wants to be happy and know the, sometimes elusive, secret to winning, of gaining a more fulfilled life. Social medias biggest stars and personalities sell a winning, successful image. There may be the occasional posts where some popular internet star decides to present a less than glamorous side of their existence, something as ‘crazy’ as going makeup free or eating a burger, even the confessing of a particularly harrowing experience they have faced at some point in their lives. Real, yes, but they overcame it and came out stronger, better.
No internet star takes photos of or posts about their stream of bills or debts, that is not the way of a winner. We gravitate toward the exceptional, ignoring the ordinary. It is okay to be okay, to not be special or a sparkling personality, but it is not something that anyone aspires to.
The one hundred metres encapsulates what many aspire to perfectly; excellence in a field achieved over a short period. They ignore the probable hard work that has gone before, loving and craving the glory of the achievement. The world loves a winner.