First is something, second is somewhere

 

{jcomments on}"First is everything, second is nowhere" is the rallying cry used by athletes at the top of their game, competing and training as hard as possible, and for encouraging those trying to get to the top. If you are attempting to win an Olympic gold medal or set a world record you'd kick yourself if you aimed for anything other than first.

But is it necessarily the right thing for the Silver Greys. Do we really want to take the attitude that

 

"First is everything, second is nowhere" is the rallying cry used by athletes at the top of their game, competing and training as hard as possible, and for encouraging those trying to get to the top. If you are attempting to win an Olympic gold medal or set a world record you'd kick yourself if you aimed for anything other than first.

 

But is it necessarily the right thing for the Silver Greys. Do we really want to take the attitude that everyone who didn't come first was wasting their time? We do believe that you go for your best all right, and that you have to train hard to achieve it, but in doing so what are the aims if not winning, and without it how do you judge if you have on each occasion given your all? Do you really want to leave the arena without having tried your hardest? Not at all, but the most important thing is having been able to get into the arena, having been able to be part of the competition. In a new way, it is in fact a question of it not being about winning but being about taking part. Because for those who feel that, in the words of the the great Jazz saxophone player Ronnie Scott, "they have a great future behind them", discovering that at whatever age you are you can be part of the competition is a revelation. And truly being part of the competition is the achievement.

 

In triathlon, athletes of all levels compete at the same time, on the same course. Triathletes of all levels love being in the same competition as the elite. Why, because then they are part of the competition. When we spoke to Mary Goodacre it was something that she highly valued, lining up with the best athletes in the world. She wasn't after overall first place, but she did speak with justifiable pride about the personal bests she had set that year, and competing alongside the best athletes was part of what drove her. She wouldn't be happy with a sub-par performance, but what she was very happy with was having achieved being part of the competition.

 

It doesn't just apply to competitive sports, it's an idea that also applies to the sports that in themselves aren't about winning at all, that are just about taking part. If you go surfing, you can't win, as such, but at sixty-five, say, the age John Kirkham was when we interviewed him, being able to be out there, to get out into the line-up and take your waves is a victory in itself. When we interviewed John and Margaret, their grandson Jack was intensely proud that his grandparents did not just ski, but skied off-piste, particularly when he compared that to many of his friends' grandparents. And Viviane Laurencin, when we interviewed her and Paulus, was extremely happy that through her sport she had friends of all ages. it was, as she said "très agreeable".

 

So, yes, first is something, but also, second is definitely somewhere.