The Tour de France ended on Sunday in a now familiar script in sporting events: A spanish athlete is the winner! In June and July, Spain national soccer team won the European Soccer Championship and Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in the final of Wimbledon. On Sunday spanish cyclist Carlos Sastre won the Tour de France. And today morning I just read in the papers that a Spanish race walker, Francisco “Paquillo” Fernandez has set a world best mark for 10Km. Every man and woman in Spain must be walking with an extra bounce!
In recent years, Spanish athletes have also won the Basketball world championship, two formula one championships, five motorcycling world titles and a handball world crown. It is surely a golden era for a country who had a reputation of being perennial underachievers.
How do you turn perennial underachievers to winners?
A good case study is the Spanish soccer team. Just before the 2008 European soccer I remember reading a BBC report about the prospect of spain, Spanish football expert Guillem Balague said “I don’t think Spain can win Euro 2008. A good tournament would be reaching the last four”
“We’re not favourites,” Luis Aragones, the team coach had said on more than one occasion. “Nobody should be deceived by Spain because in the major tournaments we haven’t done anything.”
When a team coach talks halfheartedly you know you have a big problem.
In the same BBC report, the players had a different mind set.
“We have the players to create history for Spain” Fernando Torres their top striker.
“We want to live up to the prestige and pride of a whole nation” Defender Carlos Marchena
While the rest of Spain was stuck in a mind set of self doubt, the spanish athletes have moved on. Today they no longer doubt their ability, they believe they are good. They don’t fear the opposition but face him wholeheartedly.
As we get closer to Beijing Summer Olympics, Hopes are high the recent success will inspire Spanish athletes to bring home a host of medals. Spain are hoping to get close to the record 22 medals they won when Barcelona hosted the games in 1992.
The officials and public can hope but for an athlete to win ; You have to compete 101% with your mind and heart.