Are gold medals the most important thing in competitions?

Our athletes inspire us when they reach the podium as do our wines but when we know the real-life stories behind them we realize that in their origin there is often a past of personal sacrifice and hard work that motivates millions and millions of people around these principles. Should we give more value to medals when we appreciate a glass of wine or, on the contrary, according to the moment, the company, and the place, should we judge it for what it is at that moment and without any filters?

I’m hardly an elite athlete but I was inspired by the example of the Portuguese athletes Cristiano Ronaldo and Jorge Fonseca in 2021.

At the age of 9, Cristiano started playing football officially and at the age of 11, he joined a big club in Portugal and Europe, having moved from Madeira where he lived to Lisboa at this age and living alone. After his debut in Manchester United, his alcoholic father passed away without seeing his son’s glory. However, Cristiano never stopped having his family close by and never denied his humble origins, bringing his mother to all the prestigious ceremonies of his career. Until today he has personalized the most diverse records in the modality and figures as a legend and an example of the national and international sport.

Jorge Fonseca the Portuguese Judoka who was born in São Tomé and Principe arrived in Portugal at the age of 11 and quickly took a liking to judo through his high school physical education teacher. At 17 he became a father and in 2013 he won the Portuguese Under-23 judo title and achieved an unprecedented title of European Under-23 Champion. Shortly after the happiness of being a father, in 2015 the judoka discovered he had a tumor in his leg. Despite this judo never stopped being a part of his daily life. A few days ago he won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

In a world where the sport is often about winning at all costs, their story is a triumph of taking part for the love of the game. The obsession with gold medals – with being seen to have triumphed – affects the wine world too.

I’ve lost count of the number of poor or mediocre wines that carry gold medal stickers everywhere, some of them from competitions and organizations whose judging criteria can only be described as extremely generous, if not downright cynical. But what’s wrong with drinking a wine that won bronze, was awarded 87 points, or indeed nothing at all?

Sport is more absolute than wine. There is only one gold medal available in any given event. But Ronaldo and Jorge Fonseca have shown us that other things matter too, in sport as well as in life.

You don’t have to win to win.



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