Picture two different women competing in the Australian team at the recent Athens Olympics.
“I don’t need to make any excuses,” she said. “Those girls were great out there today and they were better than me on the day, so I can only say I’ll have to come back hungry for next year.” (See smiggens)
Contrast this with another woman, young and talented and part of a team of eight. She had been allowed to join the team in spite of curious incidents in her past. She was apparently in good form and excellent fitness going into the race. Her main job was to keep rowing until the race finished. Instead, Sally Robins lay back with a quarter of the race to go and dropped her oar about 100m from the finish line.
As noted in the living room “Robbins was exhausted, not ill or injured, and an Australian official quoted Jarhling as saying he had not seen anything like it in his 35-year coaching career.”
The most interesting difference between these two women is in their minds. The first almost won a medal against massive odds. The second lost a medal against almost no odds at all. The main difference seems to have been internal to each of them, and the determination to finish the differentiator.
Sally Robbins might not have heard that famous quote from Winston Churchill:
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.”
To have gone that far and to lay down is an interesting choice to make.