SENNA KNEW WINNING ISN’T EVERYTHING
and The White Helmet and The Boy in the Yellow Helmet
by craig lock
(available at Amazon)
“A champion is not a title, but a set of qualities: Champions aren’t made in the gym. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – an inner flame that burns brightly…with dedication, purpose, desire and passion. True champions LIVE the dream, the vision of who and what they can one day become…. even a long time before it happens.”
Senna loved winning too, of course: he was obsessed by it as champions are. But what separates him is that he came to realise there was more to life – and that is why people are making films about him today. He had the visionary mystique to know in a world of plenty you do not have to have ‘have-nots’ to have ‘haves’.
His trainer Josef Leberer told me: “During my first year with Ayrton we were driving through Sao Paulo when we saw a favela and I asked how he felt when he saw these people. He said it was very hard for him and it hurt a lot, but that you have to be powerful to effect any real change and he was not there yet.
“He was already doing things for the children, even if none of it had become public knowledge. That convinced me he was capable of great things; because he wasn’t doing it for the benefit of sponsors or for photo-shoots. He wanted to do it.
“His sport became a vehicle for him to reach a position to help change the world. That wasn’t the case when he started as an 18-year-old; but he had a driving force that kept him going. The more he did it, the more he found out why. He was a sensitive man and a thinker who carried a lot in his head. He saw the real world and he could see there was so little he could do to change any of it. So his approach was to change himself.”
This message, ‘YOU be the change you want to see in the world’, was Gandhi’s. It’s aimed at everyone; but the impact is greater still if the
world is watching your every move as a sporting superstar. It seems this was an increasing motivation for Senna, even if his methods were not always quite so saintly on track.
Senna went on to use part of his wealth from motor racing to
start a foundation for underprivileged children (see http://www.sennaworld.com/asf.html)
Under the considerable guidance of sister Viviane, over ten million young Brazilians have benefited since Ayrton’s death. If only he were still with us, some reckon Senna could have used his status to move into a very different world after racing. McLaren colleague and confidant Jo Ramirez says: “I expected him to finish his career with Ferrari. Then I’d have seen him doing something in Brazil to help his people and the children. Ayrton felt fortunate to be born into a good family with everything on his plate. He made good use of it; but he always thought everybody should have a chance.
“He was so proud of being Brazilian so I always saw him doing something big within Brazil – government, who knows? Ayrton had some very strong views against certain branches of authority; so he would undoubtedly
have had strong feelings about what happens today. He would have succeeded because he was so loved by people.”
The feeling was mutual, which is why Senna would surely have made a formidable, if atypical, politician. He was well known for his battles with the F1 authorities – as the new movie highlights – but his insights were not limited to sport. He knew it was only his privileged upbringing that allowed him to make free choices in life; but he clearly wished more could benefit from such an empowering situation.
If everyone took the chance to ‘be the change they want to see’, problem solved. But it can often take a Senna to kick-start the process. Unfortunately, standing up against any prevailing mentality requires courage, no matter how public the stage.
Muhammad Ali * had the perfect combination of charisma and
global profile; but even his legendary achievements came at great personal cost. So it’s unrealistic to expect too much of our sporting heroes, when their main priorities lie elsewhere.
* “The will must be greater than the skill.”
That view is even shared by one of few modern sportsmen to take a stand on a matter of principle. Zimbabwe cricketer Henry Olonga protested alongside team-mate Andy Flower against Robert Mugabe’s regime by taking the field wearing black armbands marking the ‘death of democracy’ in the nation hosting the World Cup in 2003. They were duly forced into exile.
“Most sportsmen are usually thinking of self-preservation,” says Olonga. “You have to get fit enough to make the team, then you have to take care of your back financially with a contract and endorsements. So it’s an inward, insular worldview. It’s not their fault, it’s the nature of the business.
“Andy and I took a stance because our conscience wouldn’t allow us to take the field in that environment. But it’s one thing for that thought to enter your mind. To follow through and transfer it into action was the hard part. I watched Gladiator with Russell Crowe looking macho and challenging the king. It looks good in the movies, but in real life it’s a different story. Still, that emboldened me and gave me the impulse to think, ‘I can do this.’ Somewhere in each man is a desire to stand up against tyranny. It helped that I wasn’t doing it alone, of course”
Ayrton Senna’s real life looks just as good in the movies, but it’s no surprise his like does not crop up very often. Here’s hoping, regardless. Only a handful of sportsmen can truly command the world’s attention at any one time – but the winner of the 2010 F1 world championship will be one. You never know, perhaps they will earn the right to a film 20 years down the line too. The step from champion to legend may not be for everyone but it’s open to anyone.
Clyde Brolin is the author of ‘Overdrive – Formula 1 in the Zone’
web site: http://www.overdrivef1.com
Article sourced from : http://www.grandprix.com/ft/ft22800.html
See Ayrton Senna Foundation http://www.sennaworld.com/
From The White Helmet and The Boy in the Yellow Helmet by craig lock
Craig’s Motor Racing Books (and his various books on Formula 1)
Obsessive… or WHAT!
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
~ Franz Kafka
A champion is not a title, but a set of qualities: Champions aren’t made in the gym. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – an inner flame that burns brightly…with dedication, purpose, desire and passion. True champions LIVE the dream, the vision of who and what they can one day become…. even a long time before it happens.”
“Together, one mind, one life (one small step at a time), let’s see how many people (and lives) we can encourage, impact, empower, enrich, uplift and perhaps even inspire to reach (fulfil) their fullest potentials…and strive for and perhaps one sunny day even achieve their wildest dreams.”