10,500 athletes from 204 countries are participating in the Olympic games this year. There are 302 events in 26 sports. That means there will be 906 medal winners, give a few people for teams, etc., maybe 1,300 people total. In other words, about 12% of athletes competing will win medals. 8% will win silver or gold. 4% will win gold. (Yes, I realize the math is a little fuzzy since people can win multiple gold medals, or multiple medals, and this is not a rare occurrence (see Phelps, Raisman, etc.), so assume these numbers are extra friendly.
I am so sick and tired of watching people give their all to a race or a competition and then bitch about getting a silver medal. Do you realize you’re the second best competitor in your sport in the world and in the top 8% of people in any sport in the world? Seriously. SERIOUSLY. Stop whining.
Sure, it’s disappointing to work very hard and, if your goal is a gold medal, not to win that. I get it. You’re a competitor and you want to be the best. But don’t sulk. I’ve seen so many people sulking at this Olympic games that it blows my mind. I watched nearly every girl on the Russian gymnastics team crying through the entire competition because they weren’t in first place. I’ve seen runners crying at the finish line because they didn’t cross it first. I’ve seen Mckayla Maroney with her arms crossed on the podium because she didn’t win gold in her signature event.
But I’ve also seen men congratulating their competitors on high bar who blew their own performances out of the water to push them to second place. I’ve seen Jamaican countrymen embrace each other after winning gold and silver in the 100m dash, their smiles lighting up the entire stadium. And then I saw this:
And to all the athletes who stand on the podium with a silver medal and are disappointed, you could take a lot of lessons from this young woman. It’s okay to be disappointed that you didn’t win the gold, but don’t cry about it. You are on the medal stand. Think about how many people who trained just as hard as you and who may not possess your natural aptitude for your sport, or not to the degree you have it, and are sitting in 4th, 5th, or 10th place. If you gave it 100% and you’re in second place, that’s okay. That’s still pretty damn good. If you made a mistake and you’re still on the podium, that’s even more amazing. It means you’re so good that even on your off days, you’re number two in the world. And sure, it’s okay to wish that you had done something different, stuck a better landing, run a little more evenly, made your turn in the pool a little bit smoother, but that’s nothing to cry about. It’s called motivation.