Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Great article by Matthew Syed in the Times last month on Victoria Pendleton's olympic win:

Steve Peters, the cycling team’s psychiatrist, has said that many other Olympic champions — as well as some among the support teams — have also struggled with depression since Beijing. “This is true not just in cycling but across the sports I’ve worked with,” he said. “A number of people I’ve been in touch with following the Olympics, people who’d succeeded, said the same. They felt quite depressed, almost like a sense of loss"
Matthew then goes on to suggest that this crippling anticlimax is an evolutionary mechanism to ensure that the struggle to be best is not abandoned to feelings of satisfaction.

Here I struggle too. I suspect this is more about over-investing in the outcome rather than the journey. I think there's a cultural fixation with outcomes which undervalues the process of attainment - the journey. And that depression is an evolutionary mechanism telling us that something's out of kilter.

1 comment:

Russ said...

I would agree with your sentiment that in general there is too little value put on the 'process of attainment', and too much on the outcome - do you remember the old saying 'it's not the winning but the partaking that counts'.

Although is it not true that the mind-set needed to win at an Olympic or similar level is one of total single-mindedness?

Therefore a feeling of let-down or even depression is probably inevitable following success at this level, and will continue until either something is able to replace it (a new challenge) or there is an acceptance of a new reality (I won, it was fantastic, and now back to a 'normal' life).

It is just a matter of how much time it takes.