Watching the Winter Olympics these past two weeks, I was reminded of the three people you meet at the Games and at the Olympic Trials. For that matter, you also find them in the classroom, or the office, or the workshop. Or even at the concours.
Who are those three people?
Well, there’s “I’m just thrilled to be here.” Often you can spot them by their open-mouthed facial expression, or at least by the awe you can observe in their eyes. “Wow, I made it to the Olympic Trials,” those eyes say in a quiet yell. “My car was accepted at insert-name-of-concours,” says the stupefied car owner.
And then, and especially at the Trials, there’s “If I do really well, I could make the team.” But even if they’ve qualified for the Games, it’s, “If I do really well, I might get a certificate, perhaps, dare I think about it, a medal.”
Pretty much everyone knows that at the Games, gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the top three finishers in each event. But those finishing fourth through eighth also receive more than a kiss and cry and their other memories; they go home with an Olympic diploma or certificate.
I remember in particular a freestyle wrestler at Montreal who likely knew he wasn’t going to get a medal, but for whom that certificate was a motivating goal.
The concours or car-show version might be the various class awards, and many concours not only award a best in class, but also a series of runner-up trophies.
And finally, there’s “I’m here for the gold!” Or in some cases of exceptional skill and self-confidence, “Out of my way, I’m here for the gold! See that top step on the awards stand? It’s mine!”
Because car shows are judged rather than based on Faster, Higher, Stronger, this final type of person may not be quite so blatantly obvious to identify, though haven’t we all been at concours when from the moment the cars were driven onto the show field, it was clear which one would drive home with the Best of Show trophy?
I offer these observations based on my experience as a journalist. Before moving onto the car beat, I was a daily newspaper sports writer and editor who covered three Olympic Games as well the American Trials in track and field and in swimming and diving
But as I watched the recent coverage from South Korea, I realized that you find those same personality types in all endeavors.
Which makes me wonder: Which person am I? Which are you? Can we be all three at the same time, awed in one situation, striving for success in some other, but confident of the gold in yet another?