Winning doesn’t mater? KO losing

I came across a quote earlier today from a well-established racehorse trainer:

“It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, until you lose”

Winning ugly is still better than not winning at all.

Odds would indicate that jockeys should go on to the track expecting to lose. AP McCoy, the greatest of them all convinces himself that he is unbreakable so that he can ride without fear, go hell for leather and ensure the rest finish behind him, even if it is by the slimmest of margins. This has been effective for him many times, but even the 17 times champion has lost more often than he has won.

15-year-old Lydia Ko figured out at an early age how to win on the golf course. The New Zealander has just celebrated her third victory on the professional circuit by finishing top of the leader board at the Clearwater club in Christchurch. Last year she became the youngest winner, female or male of a professional event. It was surprising she took so long to do so since she made the cut in her first pro tournament when she was 12. Her talent, and position in the record books, is likely to be bridled by LPGA rules restricting her involvement on the tour because of her young age. As consolation, perhaps her competition would say, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, as long as you lose to a protégée likely to redefine the game as a whole.

Winning ugly can be best kind of victory. The relief of grinding it out, of putting every bit of you into it, when it feels like the playing time has dragged on and on for days, is worth it for the sole purpose of not losing again. Just ask the Wales rugby union team how it felt to beat France in Paris last weekend in the 6 Nations. After eight defeats in a row including a new record for home losses, they banged out an ugly win that was met with exhausted smiles of reprieve and hope that they might finally have dug themselves up out of the rut despite many commentators and pundits digging the boot in while they laid low. For Wales, winning mattered.

For reasons unknown to millions across the world, a few hapless people don’t support Manchester United. Apparently Sir Alex Ferguson isn’t to everyone’s taste and neither is the style of player he has instructed his team to produce. United have been criticised for not being spectacular enough of the time. They can be spectacular on occasion, knowing this means ruthless fans of the game want it more and more often, or all the time since that is the job of a footballer. The thing is, Fergie’s boys can still win playing ordinary.  Scoring goals late in a match have the same weight as a score in the first minute, chalking up the W’s is what leads to silverware at the end of the season. Arsenal and Liverpool can both play attractive football but can fail to convert style into substance, particularly within the league format. Not winning really maters to their fans.


Sporting Oscars

What do people who are not interested in sport do with their weekends? It’s a mystery. Having just four television channels, not the full fat, wall-to-wall, obesity inducing, pocket robbing Sky Sports package, three rugby matches, one Cup final and spring time horse racing were on show over two days as well as highlight programmes of football league action and the 6 Nations competition. Individually and collectively the performances produced more drama, excitement, heartache and release than many of the films nominated for a Hollywood Oscar did. Sportsmen and women often lament the highs and lows of winning medals or silverware, ranking one performance against another but the truth is, they would rather have the award than not. So stand up, show some leg and accept this weekends Sporting Oscars…..

Best performance – Cardiff City. This is not a sympathetic vote; the Championship side defied themselves and science by staying upright as many of the team suffered cramp and beyond exhausted exhaustion. The Bluebirds literally gave everything they had to force the tie into extra time so much so that Rudy Gestede nearly didn’t make it as far as the ball when he came forward to take a spot kick.

Best leading man – Sam Warburton. What is this man made off? Strong, determined, hard as nails but clever and alert with it.

Best storyline – Gerrard and Gerrard. Cousins and opponents on the day of the Carling Cup final, both miss penalties yet one is the hero lifting the cup high.

Best drama – England nearly scoring a try in the final minute of the game against Wales. It wasn’t a try though and Wales went on to celebrate a victory and the Triple Crown, the champagne tasting all the sweeter as they paraded around Twickenham and under England’s noses.

Best twist – Arsenal versus Tottenham. This script could not have been written. Arsenal off the back of a couple of losses but more worryingly a few hideous performances went two down and deservedly so. The switched was flicked and team suddenly caught up with the imagination of the writer as five goals, scored by four different players, hit the back of the net and at the same time the reality button for Tottenham and their supporters. Yea they are a good team but nothing can be taken for granted yet, they are not guaranteed third spot or Champions League football just yet.

Best reaction – Tom Court. The front row scored a try against Italy when the game was dead and buried as a contest but celebrated like he had just secured the World Cup for his country

Best name – Dodging Bullets. The unfortunately named horse didn’t win the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton, finishing behind Baby Mix ridden by a jockey whose name always invokes a smirk for less literal reason, Robert ‘Choc’ Thornton.

Best newcomer – Stuart Hogg .The 19 year old scored the opening try for Scotland on his home debut proving that his side were not actually physically repelled from the try line but were able to cross the whitewash and claim five point to out the wind up a stagnant French team.

Best oldcomer – Ryan Giggs. As far as the Welshman is concerned it has all been said before but then he keeps setting new records and breaking old ones. On his 900th appearance for Manchester United Giggs scored an injury time winner that ensures his team remain only two points shy of city rivals.