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Look How Beautiful Losing Can Be | Track and Field Ribbons

In 1978, a young Australian swimming star named Lisa Forrest rocketed to an amazing lead in the 200 meter backstroke at the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. At 14-years-of age, she might have come in first if she’d done what she said her coach told her to do. But, in her own words, she thought she knew better, and in the last 25 meters of the race an older and more experienced swimmer “mowed her down” and  backstroked to gold.

Gracious In Victory, Magnanimous In Defeat

But, Forrest, who took silver, learned from her parents the importance of losing well. “Be gracious in victory,” they imparted. “Magnanimous in the defeat.” The next day, the following picture of the young athlete appeared in a daily paper with a caption that read, “Losing can be beautiful, too.”

Lisa Forrest Losing is Beautiful

Lisa Forrest: Losing is Beautiful

All month long, my grade-school children have been practicing for the annual school track meet. They won some events at their local school and advanced to the larger meet, which was on Saturday. The final results haven’t been posted yet, but we already know they’re winners — no matter where they placed.

As I cherish their accomplishments evidenced in part by their growing collection of ribbons, I’m struck by the beauty of competition. Look at all the lovely colors! Fourth and fifth place in shades of pink, yellow and green are especially pretty. Winning and trying comes in so many different colors!

Green Fourth Place Track Ribbon Colorful Track Ribbons Green Pink Blue First Place Track Ribbons Blue Pink White Track Ribbons Second Place Track Ribbons Red Green Fifth Place Track Ribbon Fourth Place Track Ribbons Pink More colorful track and field ribbons Pink Fourth Place Track Ribbon White Third Place Ribbons

Girl Running Track

After the race, Bridgette said it bothered her to race against her friends. When I asked Sullivan if it bothered him he said, “No, I just put a blindfold on, otherwise, I couldn’t do it.”

Catholic Track and Field Ribbons

Track and Field Ribbons

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. — Proverbs 27:17


Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Heather

    I love this post! So much emphasis is put on competition, being the best, getting ahead that it seems we have forgotten that life is really a team effort, unless of course you want to alienate yourself from those you love. I was in track in high school. I loved running. However, I quickly learned that you don’t run in high school because you enjoy it you run to win. I dropped out of track my sophomore year. The idea that I had to win took all the enjoyment out of the event for me. I’d rather help the person next to me than step all over them trying to get ahead. Just like how colorful the different ribbons are when one places in events, so can friendships be (diverse, loving) when we take the time to stop rather than jump ahead. When I was in graduate school the professors always thought it was a good idea to pit the students against each other in class competitions. “This is the only way to learn business and about being the best company,” they’d say. Maybe that is why corporate life never really worked for me. I wanted to help rather than climb the ladder by hurting others, especially when they were people I enjoyed working with and admired. It does take drive, determination, and pushing to get some place, to get ahead, but it doesn’t mean we always have to get the blue ribbon/first place. I’m perfectly happy letting someone else “win” if it means I get to keep those I love and admire in my life. The experience of competition can grow a person but only if they, like you said, understand that winning doesn’t have to mean first place. 🙂 Winning comes in many forms and colors!

  2. TamB

    What a great post. I remember an ex-officemate saying: competition is bad, because it artificially creates a false sense of hierarchy, when people should cooperate. Another friend said to me, and I always think of this: “We may not reach the Promised Land, but trying to get there is still honourable.”


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