“For myself, losing is not coming in second. It’s getting out of the water knowing you could have done better. For myself, I have won every race I’ve been in.”
—Ian Thorpe, Former Australian Olympic Swimmer
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how hard a team or an athlete tries during competition—they still come up empty-handed when the final whistle blows. But as long as each player gave his or her best, leaving it all on the field or the court, the outcome doesn’t really matter. As the old saying goes, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” So when the game isn’t going as planned, it’s important to focus on the one thing you can control: your effort.
It’s virtually impossible to go through an entire athletic career without a loss. Even Michael Phelps had to settle for bronze and silver medals at the ’04 Olympics in Athens. Yet every loss has a silver lining. Athletes learn from their mistakes and dedicate themselves during training to make sure that the next game will not be lost due to lack of preparation and effort.
During his seven years of competition on the international circuit, Australian swimmer and nine-time Olympic medalist Ian Thorpe routinely exerted himself to the max. Known for his dedication and work ethic, “the Thorpedo” practically lived in the pool for the better half of a decade, perfecting his technique to the point where he could swim in his sleep. Thorpe was always prepared physically and mentally, because he knew that he had already outworked his opponents in practice and that his hunger for victory was unmatched.
At the age of 14, Thorpe became the youngest male to represent Australia in international competition. He won the 400m freestyle at the ’98 Perth World Championships against men four to eight years his senior, becoming the youngest individual male to win a World Championship.
Although Thorpe said he never “lost” a race because he always gave full effort, he still managed to rack up quite a few wins. With 46 international swimming medals and 13 individual long-course world records, Ian Thorpe is one of the greatest swimmers of all time.