This video has been making the rounds on social media even though the Southeast Asian Games were held a year ago. These divers are terrible, but notice how they congratulate each other after their dives and are all smiles nonetheless.
I have to assume they knew they wouldn’t be competitive before they left for the Games...yet they competed anyway. They understand the value of competition even when they knew they’re unlikely to win due to their country’s diving program being underfunded. Here’s what these divers know that many of us scale modelers need to learn: Win or lose, we get to do what we love, whether it’s diving or building a scale model.
Okay, I know it’s a precarious analogy, but a passion is a passion.
JD Pahoyo, one of the divers in the video, wrote this on Facebook after the event: “It was a nice experience. Great crowd, great people.” And later he wrote, “We overcame what we once knew was our limit, and that makes us a champion."
That spirit should guide you as you consider whether to enter local or regional contests, or the Nats.
Maybe you’ve followed Ryan Lochte's quest for gold and his friendly competition with teammate Michael Phelps. After he placed 5th in the 200-meter individual medley he spoke about how he’s always tried to keep swimming fun, which for him is a driving factor in his participation in the sport. Despite his poor finish, he said, "I can’t say that it’s over.” Even that swimming machine Michael Phelps, after coming in second place, was content to say, “That’s what I could do today," which I could say about many of the models that I build.
Finally, maybe you saw Kariman Abuljadayel, the first Saudi American woman to compete in the 100m sprint. She came in 7th in the preliminary heat but was all smiles afterward. The moment wasn’t about whether she would win; it was about her participation in the race.
As you watch the remaining week of the Olympics, watch how the competitors handle defeat. They do it with grace despite the disappointment, as deep and profound as it may be. For us scale modelers, the most compelling reason to enter contests is simply to share your models with others. As my friend Gil Hodges wrote in a discussion on the IPMS forums:
"I also take time to point out that everyone who competed is a winner! They came, they competed, and they successfully showed off their work. I ask them: 'What models here inspired you today?' I then point out that those inspiring models might not even take home an award that day; and that a model of theirs that didn't place might have inspired someone else that day!"
Isn’t that what it’s all about?