I lost.

Again.

In fact not even close to a podium.

Or a decent time.

Yet, I still felt good. While friends and spectators were telling me “better luck next time,” or “you looked fast at that split,” it was literally going in one ear and out the other. Why? Because I don’t necessarily mind.

 

Downhill mountain bike - Photo Photo: Theperfectline

 

A high performance sport is based on the simple foundation you either win or you lose. If you lose, you were out played, if you weren’t out played you were unprepared. It is the basic driving force of why we compete, and why we push ourselves to excessive speeds on the track. Yet, why don’t I care? When I compete, my priorities are different.

Perhaps this is a controversial opinion for those who have more race experience, are more competitive or have made a career out of this, but I beg to ask the question, if your priorities aren’t in check in the first place, why are you even racing?

The rest should come naturally and you might even surprise yourself with what you can actually achieve by losing more and being a bloody good sport about it.

 

Photo – Cam Mackenzie

In the short term, losing a race is an emotional rollercoaster. The initial disappointment, with the “should of, could of, would of – DIDN’T” scenario on repeat. I SHOULD have loosened up more, I COULD have taken that line, I WOULD have been faster, yet I DIDN’T. And that’s all good, it’s only natural to feel this and part of the process. The important part is how you recover from these thoughts and then turn them into actions.

Negative public reactions to high profile athletic losses have been around since the beginning of competition and is now even more heightened with the internet and social media. Here are my top reasons why losing is actually winning:

Resilience

Losing teaches you discipline and mental strength. By losing you learn humility, and are often humbled. Too many times I’ve turned up to a local race with a casual and confident air about me, only to be beaten by others that I would never consider a threat or within my realm. Take losing at races as a practice run for real life and how to bounce back as gracefully as possible.

Photo – Cam Mackenzie

Strength

Routinely creating high pressure situations provides you with the opportunity to develop focused and objective thinking that is positive. The intensity of racing creates opportunities to develop behavioural skills to build relationships with team mates, another skill that translates directly to the real world. 

Rider: Jenna Hastings Photo: Jemma Wells

Emotions

You can learn to control your emotions through losing. How can this loss make you stronger or more compassionate? It builds philosophy, camaraderie, sportsmanship and the idea of athletics as a series of incremental victories.

Photo: Paul Foley Rider: Emma Olofsson

Community and environment

How cool is it that you have a community that rallies behind you doing a race, it gives you reason, a feeling of belonging and drive. If you have this element in your life, you’re clearly already winning. 

Photo: Photo: Theperfectline

As a female rider learning to race later than most, it’s all about the losses for me. It’s a necessary step to win! If you are putting yourself out there and getting disheartened by losing, remember to keep looking at the big picture and see what you are really taking away from the experience! 

One of my best friends loves to remind me “You win some, you lose most,” and that’s the light hearted approach I try to take… and as always for the love of it!

Photo: Jemma Wells

 

 

Kelsey Timpany

27 years old and hailing from little New Zealand, Kelsey is here to share tales of mountain biking from down under.

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