Rebecca Chapman did not make much of an impact for Wales at the Commonwealth Games. But Owen Morgan says her reaction and response should count for plenty.
“It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part” is a phrase more often associated to the Olympic Games, but it’s equally applicable to the current Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Of course, you have to have winners in sport. As legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi once said: “If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?”
But not everyone can take the gold medal. Only one team, or one individual, can take their place on the top podium.
Does that make everyone else who took part in the competition a loser?
Certainly not. Especially when they show the kind of grace in defeat and level of determination to do better next time that Wales’ Rebecca Chapman has shown in the wake of her exit from the Commonwealth Games long jump competition.
Taking part in the qualification round at the Carrara Stadium, Chapman could only achieve a best jump of 6.02m – over half a metre down on her personal best achieved last season.
The Cardiff AAC athlete’s post on Twitter following her failure to qualify for the long jump final on the Gold Coast was as heart-warming as it was heart-rending.
She wrote: “Commonwealth Games is over for me. It was far from great but . . . after crying I decided to reflect on the positives more than dwell on negatives.
“I’m not going to bore you with some sob story, I just wasn’t good enough on the day. Those that know me best know what I had to overcome this past few months and I’m at peace knowing that I made them all proud.
“You win some and you lose some, but you learn from every experience. I have honestly had one of the best experiences of my life. So thanks to everyone who has been a part of it.”
After thanking all those who helped her along the way, Chapman – who had battled serious illness and injuries to get to the Gold Coast – added: “Today, I started a clap in front of thousands of people in an incredible stadium and they joined in.
— Rebecca Chapman (@beccachapman18) April 11, 2018
“Today, little old me . . . standing at 5ft 4ins . . . ran down a long jump runway in a Commonwealth Games . . . and came out the other side with memories only a few will experience.
“Today, I made a promise to myself I would smash the rest of the season! Tomorrow, I make that promise a reality. Roll on 2018 outdoor season . . . what a journey.”
Chapman didn’t do herself justice in her attempt to qualify for the final of the Commonwealth Games, as she was honest enough to acknowledge.
Anyone who has at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium last summer to see her win silver at the British Athletics Championships and break the 35-year-old Welsh record with her last jump on the competition will know there is far more to come from this athlete.
In Australia, Chapman hasn’t just made the people who know her best proud, she has made an entire nation proud, just as all the members of Team Wales at the Commonwealth Games have done . . . whether they have won a medal or not.
But she deserves particular praise for her reaction to the obvious disappointment of early elimination.
The quote from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” above the entrance to Wimbledon’s centre court: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same.”
Rebecca Chapman has certainly done that.