Are You A True Champion? How Shaun White Impressed Me With His Loss

I think champions are defined not by how often they win, but by how they go out and compete and how they handle failure.

Do they play to win no matter the situation? Do they blame everything but themselves when they lose? And do they bounce back after failure?


Last night, I saw the champion in Shaun White and thought to myself, “No wonder this guy has been at the top and so dominant for so long.”

No last night Shaun White didn’t win the gold, but even without a medal, he showed himself to be a champion.

I honestly don’t know that much about the halfpipe event, but from what I heard (and have since read) the halfpipe was not in ideal condition.

And Shaun White and many of the riders weren’t happy about it. And it affected many of their rides.

Some could argue it may even be the reason why Shaun White didn’t win.

But in his interview right after when asked about the halfpipe condition, he didn’t blame the condition of the halfpipe for his loss.

All he said was, “Everyone had to deal with the same conditions.” (This may not be an exact quote, but you get the idea.)

He didn’t blame the conditions, which honestly many athletes do. And maybe the conditions did cause him not to perform as well as he could.


And someone else performed better in those conditions than he did.

He came out to win, he went for the big run, but just didn’t have it that day.

To win, you have to come out and perform on that day no matter what.

And Shaun White didn’t do that. And he didn’t blame it on anything but himself.

He didn’t play it safe. He went out to win, going for the big moves, even knowing the conditions weren’t ideal and the pressure was on.


And when someone else just beat him that day, he gave credit to the winner, “Ipod.”

That is what a true champion does.

They go out to win even when the pressure is on and they handle defeat gracefully without blaming outside factors (even potentially when they could).

A true champion accepts the defeat and is self-assured enough to be able to give others credit when credit is due.

And then the true champion goes back and learns from his or her failure.

While we need to always work on our strengths to make them better, we are truly only as good as our weakest links.

And failing, while definitely not pleasant, is where we learn.

If we never put ourselves in the situation to fail, we will never truly succeed because we will never truly learn what we need to get BETTER.

Shaun White could possibly have played it safe, like he did to qualify, and he may still have won or even medaled.

But he didn’t play it safe and just hope to medal.

He went for gold.

He put himself in the situation where he may fail, but he could also reap big rewards.

And yesterday, it didn’t pay off.

But he also won’t have any regrets.

Trust me…you regret it way more when you play it safe, when you play not to lose, and then don’t win instead of just going all out, playing to win, and not coming away with gold.

You went for it, you have no regrets and now you have things to work on.

And if you are a true champion, you will come back stronger after the failure.

While no one knows for sure if Shaun White will compete at the next Olympics, I dare to say he will. And I think he’ll come back stronger than ever.

Shaun White, I honestly didn’t read much about you before….or even care about the halfpipe, but you impressed me yesterday.

Where you impressed by anyone at the Olympics? How do you define a TRUE CHAMPION?

Posted on February 12, 2014, in Mindset, Show me yours and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Yes, the struggles people deal with and the losses or disappointments and things they have overcome and the people who handle them with grace… SO IMPRESSIVE!!! Absolutely seeing the incredible athletes who did not win their event have been amazing. Because all of them have put in the time and suffering and hours of practice to be there and compete at that level.

  2. Well said!! Just to echo a bit… I know a bit about the other US riders and Shaun White. It all feels a little Rocky IV to me. It’s great to train and prepare for big tricks and sport changing maneuvers when you have the perfect conditions. But if you cant perform with substandard conditions as well as others they will beat you. You need to be able to perform in all circumstances. That’s why Michael Phelps’ coach stepped on his goggles at an event that was not the Olympics, so that if something went wrong he could adapt. Shaun and the other US snowboarders have been blessed with beautifully crafted pipes for events and practice. The other riders from other countries who Medaled have not been so lucky. Time for US go pull a Rocky IV and use a toboggan sled and a snow filled swimming pool to do tricks.

  3. I saw Shaun White’s gold run 4 years ago. He. Was. Amazing. I -and the whole USA probably- wanted him to win again but we should all remember his classy performance after his scores were given and he how hugged the winner…and then allowed he winner to hug him again..:and then of course his response to the reporters. Such a classy guy.

    Off-topic…I love watching the Olympics and sure wish we could turn the commentators OFF. They are so negative!!

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