What makes a champion?


I’ve been catching up on some old podcasts while I’ve been out and about over the last couple of weeks. I chose them randomly, but a theme emerged: what is it that makes someone a winner, a medallist, a champion?

It’s the usual story. Starting young, training, the point at which it all becomes more serious. You train, compete, eat and sleep and pretty much everything else falls by the wayside.

But setting out requires practical and financial help. You need to get to and from training sessions, have the equipment, enter competitions and travel to them, eat the right food, get to physio sessions – and pay for all of that. If you’re championship material, funding will appear in the form of grants, sponsorship and the like. Until then, it’s the Bank of Mum and Dad.

And I started to think what it’s like for the other children in the family. Do they have to go without in order for one sibling to follow their dream? It might not be thought of in those terms, but how much money will there be for holidays or pocket money or new clothes if the family budget is skewed to funding one child? And what about the amount of parental time available? Will each of the children have the same amount of time in conversations during car journeys to training and competitions? How do parents spread themselves between each of the children when they’re being pulled in the direction of one child’s schedule?

I have no idea how I’d cope with this. Do you deny a child what they most desire and prevent them from realising their potential? Do you run the risk of prioritising one child above the others? How can you make it up to the other children? Should you even try and does it matter? Don’t all families rub along anyway? Aren’t the other children proud of their champion sibling when the hard work pays off?

I probably would have forgotten about it if one of the champions I’d listened to had acknowledged that his/her needs might have had an impact on the rest of the family. There was acknowledgement of what the parents had done, but nothing was said about the potential for impact on siblings. This was in spite of – in one case – a very direct question.

I hope this champion’s siblings are proud of him/her, but I’m starting to see the competitive spirit and the desire to win in a very new light.

I’d be interested to hear any comments.

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