The contender on paper. Or the right of the strongest
Every athlete will tell you: training is hard work; after that, the competition is the easy part. That is largely true. The hours of blood, sweat and tears, the suffering, the pain, the frustration and the victory over you mainly take place during the preparations for "that one match".
A qualification, a championship or an international competition. You train for it all year long, that's what you do it for. All competitions that you do in between are therefore part of the entire process; good to know where you stand.
But the hard work will have to pay off at that one specific moment.
And you know that you belong to the best, on paper you have a fighting chance. During the training you can easily reach the limit set for the qualification of that important competition.
You are in shape, you feel good.
But then the time has come for you to start living it. You know you only have three attempts to survive the qualifying round. Or you know you're the fastest runner in the heat.
But you make a false start. And therefore you are disqualified.
Or you can easily throw the required distance during the warm-up. But during the competition it just starts raining and the ring gets slippery. You slip; twice invalid. And the "safe" attempt is not far enough. End of competition.
But maybe it’s none of the thing mentioned above. The circumstances are perfect. The sun shines, the starter does not wait too long before he releases the starting shot, the audience encourages. You are undefeated in your own country. But now you come across athletes who are at least as strong. And you have to prove yourself extra now.
That pressure can be too much, which means you cannot get the best out of yourself.
Gaining competition experience should therefore not be forgotten, and certainly not underestimated. Because apart from the physical preparations during training hours, the mental aspect is just as important. The impact of the environment during a competition on the state of mind of the athlete can determine the result just as well as a physical injury.
After all, you only have a limited number of attempts to show what you can do. And it's up to you to make it happen; not just the contender on paper, but actually being the strongest athlete in the field.