On winning

Yesterday I participated in the yearly fencing marathon tournament at the academic fencing club in Zurich. The competition is mainly directed towards leisure fencers, even tough there are some pretty successful fencers there, most of the participants do not regularly take part in competitions. I was there for the past three years. When I participated the first time I arrived in a great mood and was excited for my first tournament. I was hoping to win as many matches as I could. And then I lost the first round of matches. And in the next round I kept on loosing. I lost every single match. Some without even scoring a single hit. Halfway through the tournament I was in the middle of the match when I thought to myself “I am not going to win this. Maybe I will not win a single match the entire day.” I got really sad at that moment, but I kept on fencing and told myself: “Maybe I am not goin to win anything. But am I doing the best that I can? Do I score some nice points, even if I do not win the entire match? Do I learn something? Do I feel like I can grow here? Isn’t that a good atmosphere here? Isn’t it fun here?”

I did place last in that tournament. Without winning a single match. At the same time I felt really ok with it. Being at a very competitive place it felt funny and unusual saying: “I placed last”. But looking back, I have very positive memories for that event. I guess I very much agree with Alain de Botton’s perspective on success – I lost, but I did not feel like a looser.

Yesterday my last match was against a girl who did fine, even though she clearly was a beginner fencer. I scored some points, I was tired and wanted to shower soon, I did not pay a lot of attention, the score was 4:4, and then she hit me and won 5:4. She pulled the mask off her head, jumped up, and shouted out to her friends “I WON!”. Her friends and the spectators including my coach, cheered and congratulated her, while she came up to me and said “Sorry, that I am so happy about defeating you, but this is the only match that I won today!” Her happiness was sweet and I noticed that while winning this meant little to me at that moment, it did mean a lot to her, and I felt truly happy for her. Good job, girl! Keep on fighting and have fun with it!


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