The Calm of Champions

June 14, 2011

Being “backstage” at the Formula 1 Grand Prix for four days last week, the one person who stood out for me was Sebastian Vettel. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an athlete so relaxed. He made time for everybody to have a little chat, take a photo, sign an autograph, on and on.

Most drivers didn’t seem to be going anywhere without their agent by their side and a bit of nervousness in the air. They too would allow for a few photos and autographs, but then they’d duck into their secluded areas as quickly as possible. Even at the eve of the race, when most drivers left around 5pm, Vettel walked out at the same time as I did, sometime after 7. Yes, I know, he didn’t win the next day, but being able to stay that calm in a sport that is mental as much as physical has to be an advantage.

It made me think if I know of a rider who is as calm before a race, but I can’t think of any. It’s not that they are all nervous wrecks, far from it, but Vettel was at a different level of serenity. The only time a cyclist claims to be that calm or “tranquilo” is if they have just been accused of doping. Have you ever noticed that, how the first response is often that they are tranquilo? How can that be, if you’ve just been accused of the worst thing possible in your sport? Was it no surprise? Would you not go out of your mind if you’d just been notified of a false positive?

4 Responses to “The Calm of Champions”

  1. Thomas Says:

    A Homicide Detective who is a friend of mine once said that the behavior of a suspect in the interview room tells all. Especially if the crime was some time ago and they have been carrying around this guilt, this knowledge that they have done something wrong. The moment of “capture” is almost a relief, the suspect feels a peace that has been lost since the moment the crime was committed. Other than total sociopaths, people maintain an internal sense of right and wrong that is sometimes compromised but never totally lost.
    Tyler Hamilton spoke of the deep relief he felt, the burden lifted, after testifying before the Federal Grand Jury about his doping mistakes. Maybe a connection? It would explain also why Lance Armstrong feels no remorse.


  2. [...] The Calm of Champions [...]


  3. [...] The Calm of Champions [...]


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