OPINION: No one forgets number one, right? Wrong!
A Canadian ice hockey player’s words “I’m glad I got drafted first, because no one remembers number two” were in my mind on Monday while glued to the small screen. Alexandre Daigle uttered the words in 1993 after he had been drafted first overall by Ottawa Senators in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.
The sentiments of his words have found resonance in business or in any race in which the entity or person emerging first is the one whose name is etched in the history books. And the world will sing the praises of the number one – because that’s what life dictates. And this has ensured that everyone goes an extra mile to stay on top.
So, back to my story of Monday. There I had put aside the normal things I would do on a Monday – since it is a day off for us working for a Sunday publication. In front of the television, I sat with the remote in hand. The channel on the TV was on 211 and it would soon be the men’s 100m sprint finals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Considered the climax of any athletic meeting, the men’s 100m sprint was dominated by Jamaican Usain Bolt for years until his retirement last year. His countryman Yohan Blake, known as the beast, was the favourite to win the event and thus see him emerge from Bolt’s shadows to become his own man.
Judging by the prerace commentary, Blake was the only REAL sprinter out there; the rest were there only to contest for the other less attractive medals.
Once the gun went off, the commentators continued to speak about Blake, giving little attention to two youngsters from South Africa – who would blast through the finishing line, collecting gold and silver in the process. And Blake came a disappointing third to get bronze for Jamaica and fail to become the star of the show. But the cameras were not interested in Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies. The cameras were still on their man, Blake. Anyone who switched on the TV then would easily have been mistaken for thinking Blake had won the race – he was the centre of attention, after all.
Blake’s disappointing race continued to dominate TV news with Simbine and Bruintjies given secondary attention for their sterling performances.
The world-view of the outcome of the 100m finals should not deter our young men from doing better. This would be their step to even better performances and show the world that South Africa – and Africa as a whole – has sprinters too. After all, we should remember number one – and not the loser, right?