On Saturday I successfully completed a huge goal of mine, I finished in the top 150 of one of the world’s toughest amateur cycling stage races, Haute Route Alps. A race that covered 800km over seven timed stages, taking competitors from Nice to Geneva on an epic journey through the heart of the Alps. And yet as I sit here five days later I feel lost and sad.
There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time. For the past twelve months the words of Malcolm X have enabled me to take strength from falling short in my first attempt at completing the Tour du Mont Blanc, they have helped me improve day by day and driven me to great lengths in order to ensure that I didn’t suffer the pain of defeat for a second time.
The icy wind bared it’s teeth and bit into the exposed skin on my face, but by this stage I had stopped worrying about trying to cover my nose and cheeks, all I could think about was getting off the mountain and back home to my family. My mind raced with images of my wife and baby son, this wasn’t how I had imagined it would be like, far from it. The storm raged, the winds howled, visibility reduced to a matter of feet and panic began to set in - I had read enough mountaineering books to know that in such conditions serious, often fatal, accidents occurred.
At the very highest level of professional sport there is very little between the top players in terms of skill, ability and fitness, so what’s the difference then between a player like Djokovic and everyone else? The answer is simple, mindset.