Silver and Bronze

In Sports by Brock Bourgase

During the 2008 Olympics, China has placed a premium on gold medals. To some degree, the philosophy suggests that if the medal isn’t gold it doesn’t matter. Like Johan Bruyneel said in the title of his new book “We Might as Well Win.”

Many times, falling just short – pulling up instead of driving for the line, missing the critical foul shot – is an example of a lack of focus. That said, there are other occasions when a podium position is still an example of excellent mental training.

During Tuesday’s triathlon, Simon Whitfield had been dropped by the lead pack as they entered the stadium. Discarding his visor was Whitfield’s signal that he was refocusing and sprinting to the finish. The Canadian rejoined the lead pack and briefly held the lead as the runners approached the line. Whitfield was passed by a German in better shape at the time but he would have received nothing had he given up when it seemed that he was out of the race.

Later in the day, the Women’s 100m hurdles were wide open, since previous Olympic and World Champions had not qualified for the final. Lolo Jones led most of the race but her focus slipped as she approached the finish line. The American hit the penultimate hurdle and lost her balance. Dawn Harper won the race but those who kept racing hard for the entire race were involved in a photo finish as 0.02 seconds separated second and sixth position. Canada’s Priscilla Lopes-Schliep consequently won a surprise bronze medal.

Short-track speed-skaters crash, bizarre comebacks can occur. During the Men’s 200m Sprint, Usain Bolt dominated the field but the silver and bronze medalists were disqualified for stepping on the lane dividers. Sport permits all types of events to occur; determination despite obstacles is often rewarded.