Going for Gold & Smiling When You Lose


We all heard the legendary American swimmer, the perennially young and strong Michael Phelps, utter during the Rio Games: “We are competitors. I don’t want him to win and he doesn’t want me to. But the kid has talent.” You can’t put the Olympic spirit in words more meaningful and expressive than these. They indeed come here to compete and are destined to either win or lose. And losing with elegance is a kind of art – some of them have mastered that art of losing with dignity, but some look plain ugly in the role of a loser.

Concerning the winners, they are always nice to look at. Certainly, with losing a bout, an athlete might also say goodbye to future glory and a nice chunk of money on top of it –a prospect that could easily instigate a very bad mood. Usually, in the Olympics, this becomes the reason for tears, nervous breakdowns, moodiness and grumpy fits. For instance, a couple of Georgia’s defeated athletes refused to give a quick post-battle interview to our journalists, the reason clearly being the overpowered sportsman’s overly effectual frustration. Not good! In the first place, Olympic athletes are simply obligated, whether winner or loser, to talk to the people at home who are rooting for them with bated breath and this may only happen via the journalistic effort, and, secondly, you can’t be a winner all the time. On the one hand, this could purely be a matter of good or bad luck, and on the other, winning takes a huge amount of physical and moral endeavor on the Olympic altar. Only the best and the strongest can do that. Only the best! And the strongest! This is part of the competitive world!

As Mike said, nobody wants a rival to win, but talent has to be appreciated. You want to be better than your defeater? Then go ahead and be better. If you can, of course. If you can’t, try at least not to get mad either at your triumphing competitor or with your own unfortunate self. Just make a dignified attempt, no matter how hard this is in the moment, to pay the well-deserved dues to somebody else’s ability to be the best. That’s what the Olympic movement is all about in general – to bring the world together in peace and understanding, using as much benevolence and objectivity as possible. Anger, grudge and attitude have nothing to do with it. That said, I would still love to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's: Rio2106 is today a spacious sports venue which is successfully – so far – hosting 11,551 athletes from 203 countries to compete in 306 events of 28 sports, and most of them are well-behaved.

None of us is perfect and not all of us are able to digest our occasional successes and failures in the same agreeable and elevated way. We all have our merits and flaws, and most of these strapping young men and women from all over the planet make together the ablest and healthiest part of Mankind.

You should have seen them live- beautifully uniformed and elegantly striding through the lavishly decorated and illuminated Maracana Stadium the day of the Rio Games opening ceremony. Recollecting the grand moment, you start believing that the minor failures in correct demeanor should most probably be forgivable to those new Olympian ‘gods’. They indeed do a huge service to humanity: they generate good will versus the extant evil one; they symbolize the power we all need to manage to be good and useful; they entertain us in the best possible way; and they set an example to the generations to come for achieving heights that are indispensable in order for the world to become a better place to live in than it is now. And because they function as an epitome of good will and behavior to our youth, they have to be as perfect as possible in every noticeable detail, including the dignified endurance of contest losses. And still, let us forgive them magnanimously those little weaknesses, shall we?

Nugzar B. Ruhadze

18 August 2016 17:20