Last night, Abhinav Bindra missed the podium by a whisker. Since then, headlines like’ Unlucky Bindra’s hard work goes in vain’ took over the internet.
Bindra of course lost a nail-biter but that does not necessarily imply that luck betrayed him.
Losing a close match is one thing and being unlucky is another thing. At times the latter leads to the former but it is not a sure event.
You want to know what being unlucky really means?
Ask Jules Noel, The French discuss thrower. Well, he won’t be able to answer because he died in the second World War but historical documents will be able to give the answer on his behalf.
In the 1932 Olympic Games at Los Angeles, Noel, on his fourth attempt in the discuss throw, lofted one which appeared to land beyond the flag that marked American John Anderson’s effort.
All officials in charge of the competition, at that moment, were distracted by the tense climax in the pole vault competition. None of them noticed Noel’s efforts.
Embarrassed, they gave him one extra throw but that didn’t help Noel.
He failed to win a medal.
He was unlucky.
Albania made her first appearance in the Olympic Games of 1972. They made a record and caught attention by boycotting the next four Olympic Games. Then they made a much talked about comeback in the Barcelona Games of 1992.
Their contingent consisted of a very limited number of athletes and the first of them scheduled to be in action was Genc Barkici, a weightlifter.
He did rather well in the European Championships which were held a few months prior to the Olympics.
But, unfortunately, Barkici, Albania’s best bet at winning an Olympic medal, got his finger caught in a door on the day of the competition and was hence left with no other option but to withdraw.
He was unlucky.
In the 1995 World Championships in Sweden, Natalya Shikolenko was crowned world champion in Women’s Javelin. The Belarusian, understandably, was one of the favourites to win the gold in the Atlanta Olympics which took place in the following year.
On her second throw, the javelin hit an overhead camera cable and hence that attempt was not taken into consideration. She was given an extra try to as a compensation for this unfortunate incident but she couldn’t match the throw which hit the cable. She finished in twelfth place.
She was unlucky.
Abhinav Bindra fought well and lost by a whisker but please don’t attach the ‘unlucky’ tag to his performance.