This past weekend, two great efforts in the world of sport resulted in victory for two unlikely competitors. A great underlying lesson bubbled UP as well.
Mathew Hayman, a journeyman pro bike racer with Orica GreenEdge Professional Cycling Team was racing in Paris-Roubaix. This 114th edition of the 250+ kilometer, ass-kicking, pave’- heavy “Queen of the Classics” was chock full of monster bike racers. Both veteran champions and fresh, fast faces were at the start, including the youthful, reigning World Champion, Peter Sagan (and winner of two races in the last two weeks).
With all the big names racing, you might think it’d be one of those guys across the line first. In fact, it was Mr. Hayman raising his arms in victory, actually beating none other than Tom Boonen (four time winner of the race) in the end to take the top step on the podium. You can see it in his face. The emotion of the effort. The joy, the satisfaction, the humbled, appreciative gaze for the moment was inspired.
Back in the U.S., along the hallowed fairways and greens and posh grounds of Augusta, Georgia, the 82nd Masters Tournament was played. Last year’s winner, Jordan Spieth, was playing well and in the lead going into the final round Sunday. Then a Brit named Danny Willett shot a final round 67 (five under par). This good score coupled with Spieth’s struggles during his final round produced a surprising result.
Willett had stayed in the hunt throughout the weekend. The effort put him up near the top of the leader board after his final 18 holes. Previously in his eight year career he’d won a handful of tournaments. However, Willett had never won on US soil. And then things unraveled completely for Spieth, the leader, and it was Willett who put on the fabled green jacket at the end of the afternoon, as the sun set on another Masters.
Obviously a portion of each man’s success can be attributed to others’ misfortunes, shortcomings, and just plain bad luck. But that’s how sport goes. And that’s also how life goes.
If you want a chance to win, to be successful, you’ve got to be in the game. You’ve got to keep after it, and not give up but instead, give your all. You’ve got to be, as Teddy Roosevelt put it, “the man in the arena.”
You have to show up, you have to be there. And you have to be ready. Willett was. Hayman was. I striving to be more like those guys. Bravo, gents, BRAVO.