As I See It


Oamaru Opera HouseAS I SEE IT (16 JAN) edited copy wc 465

By Terry O’Neilll

Waitaki District will celebrate and record for eternity the fine efforts of its athletes at the annual sporting awards on Monday, ninth of March, at the Opera House. The district’s population may be fairly sparse but is by no means a reflection on the sporting prowess of its people. Nine divisions of achievers from Emerging Talent to Masters Athletes are represented in nominations of athletes who excel locally to those who succeeded nationally or internationally. The range includes downhill mountain biking and ultra distance running to swimming, rowing and table tennis, and athletes and administrators of all ages.

Many may view the annual sports awards celebration as a function that highlights winners and losers and do not realise that each nominated athlete achieved a target that they set themselves. At whatever level, to achieve that target is success, a platform of many definitions. American columnist Walter Winchell claimed in 1897 “Nothing succeeds like success”. Author, physician and WW1 Intelligence Officer Somerset Maugham believed “The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistical and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary it makes them for the most part humble, tolerant and kind. Failure makes people cruel and bitter.” And author Robert Louis Stevenson believed “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”. In other words it is the learning on the journey that the athletes travel that is more valuable than the ultimate achievement itself.

Success is relatively easy to cope with as long as it placed on the correct rung of the personal ladder of life. Too often success produces over-confidence or even arrogance. As in any field of endeavour that greatest characteristic, humility, is one of the hardest life skills to embody and we are fortunate so many of our sports heroes and role models have it in abundance.

Failure tests the mettle of the individual facing it: daunting and disappointing to cope with but a process that is but part of the journey. How we cope with failure, and with success, in our sporting endeavours will likely mirror the way we live and relate to people as the journey progresses. It’s about perspective. About relativity, that elusive ability to see situations and generalities in appropriate balance.

This district’s annual awards climax embraces a passion to nurture talent, leadership and flair. The formal celebrations of our sporting prowess extends well over fifty years to 1963 when Commonwealth Games gold medallist rower George Paterson became the inaugural Sportsman of the Year, the premier award. The range of sports recognised in these honours indicate the versatility of participants in the district. Cricket, rugby, rowing and athletics have been intermixed with darts, paraplegic codes, show jumping, croquet, sheep dog trialling and shearing.

The basic inhibitor for success in sport is to stop trying!


First Published in The North OtagoTimes

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