By: Chia Han Keong
TOO often, sports fans are too enamoured with the achievements of winners and fail to recognise the efforts
of those who lost.
In an age where the sports world is wired towards winning all the time and at all costs, fans are also conditioned to believe that victories are all that matter. Losers and runners-up are ignored or, worse still, derided.
Yet, these losers often come back for more, so unrelenting in their quest to finally become the winners, that one must ask: Isn't this inspiring too?
Take Tyson Gay, for instance. In another time, another era, the American sprinter might have been the unbeatable
one, the toast of the track world.
Unfortunately, his prime years just happen to coincide with the rise of Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sensation who is
smashing world records so emphatically that Gay and any other sprinter are left in the dust.
Gay could have stopped, raised his hands in surrender and said: "It's impossible. I just cannot outrun Usain."
Instead, he returns to the starting blocks, eagerly wanting to pit himself against Bolt, even though his best might not
be enough against this Jamaican freak of nature.
He said: "Usain has made me better because he has forced me and other sprinters to change the way we think.
"I need to just keep working on my race - my start, my drive phase and my technique."
It is almost sadistic to cheer him on, considering that he will have to suffer repeated, heartbreaking failures in his quest to outdo Bolt.
Still, he is not alone. Many popular sports have seen dominant sportsmen who hog the limelight, win most of the tournaments and leave others cursing at their misfortune in being trapped in the same era as them.
Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher, Manchester United. These names are rightly celebrated for setting new winning standards in their sports.
At the same time, let's treasure the doggedness of those who continuously try to hunt down the top dogs.
Support Arsenal, Chelsea and even Liverpool, for building and rebuilding their teams over the past two decades to try and knock Man United off the perch atop English football.
Recognise the indomitable spirit of Andy Roddick who, despite being tortured repeatedly by Federer, simply shrugs and comes back for more tennis duels against the Swiss.
Cheer for Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone, elite basketballers who would have won National Basketball Association titles had Jordan not been blocking their routes.
Most of all, applaud those who finally made the breakthrough:
Rafael Nadal, who toppled Federer as world No. 1 for a year; Phil Mickelson, who is on the cusp of ousting Woods; and the South Korea Uber Cup team who, after five straight finals losses, finally beat China to land
that treasured badminton title last Saturday.
Be inspired by perennial losers, because they never quit.
For more my paper stories click here.