Wednesday 13 December 2017

Obsessives don't have a monopoly on success

Heaslip proof that easy-going characters can join tortured perfectionists at top of pile

Jamie Heaslip, Ireland
Jamie Heaslip, Ireland

Joe Molloy

Des Smyth cracked a smile at Government Buildings in Dublin last Thursday, when he pointed out that "sport is 99pc failure anyway". The 61-year-old was speaking at the Ryder Cup vice-captaincy announcement alongside captain Paul McGinley and fellow vice-captain Sam Torrance.

It was a throwaway remark, part of a wider point about his intent to appreciate the glorious privilege of another Ryder Cup experience. Golf is certainly 99pc failure – the odds are perhaps less brutal in other disciplines, but Smyth's over-riding point is sound.

Sport throws up an inordinate number of disappointments and setbacks; there are hurdles and failings aplenty, with ample time for reflection. The trick, as wily old Des knows, is to see the bigger picture.

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