“Losing is always a real possibility. But
when you lose, you learn, you file it and
move on. You are never beaten”
TWO- Time CART indy CAR
2003 indiAnApOlis 500
WinneR he guy that wins is the champion, right? Right.
But...the word is as much an adjective
as it is a noun. So, coming at it from that
angle, apart from beating everyone in
competition, what is a champion? What
defines a champion? What are champions
made of? How are they different?
I’m sure many books and articles have
been written and documentaries made
about this very subject. I can’t claim to be
a scholar of such materials but, as a young
sportsman (and now that I think of it, as an
old one, too), I made a point of always
studying great champions, doing my best
to understand and dissect the make up of
a champion and, hopefully, learn some
making the most of what they have.
Physically, they are as honed as they can
be. But, perhaps more importantly, it comes
down to hours and months and years of
mindful practice. Same in every sport I’m
afraid... Notice the word “mindful” carefully
placed prior to practice. Clearly, it’s
another of my “zenny” references, but
this time it really means something!
Mindful in the sense of awareness, not
just doing it, but being very conscious and
analytical as you do it. You follow me?
• On the matter of “determination”
It’s a common reference when one talks
about champions but, quite frankly, I refuse
to believe you can get a competitive edge
simply by being determined. Lots of people
are determined, to a very high level in fact.
Sure, it’s a vital ingredient in a champion’s
makeup, but it’s one that can easily be
matched, so let’s refine it and call it intelligent
determination, or strategic determination,
or something like that anyway...
From what I’ve observed, champions
are very cunning and strategic in the way
they manifest their determination. It rarely
shows as bravado or brainless aggression,
but instead is a steely inner strength allied
with a deep understanding of what’s
needed for maximum performance.
• On the matter of “attitude”
Let’s call it mindset. And it’s possibly the
believing he was the
best and the worst
served Juan Manuel
Fangio well. In a
Formula 1 World
just eight seasons
(1950-’ 51 and
1953-’ 58) and
52 starts, the
earned five titles and
24 grands prix wins.
lessons that might be applicable to me;
make me a better driver, a better person.
Obviously, not much of it sunk in!
Nevertheless, here are a few things I
found to be significant and important...
• On the matter of “natural talent”
As I understand it, genetics aren’t
something we can re-engineer just yet.
I’ve no idea what science will come up
with in the future, but what I do know is
that it’s no use worrying about how much
natural talent you have. In fact, some
argue that no such thing actually exists.
Regardless of your belief, most
champions tend to be very good at
WhaT makEs a champIoN?