Germain Bisson has been head instructor of Karate Cama in Quebec for over 30 years.

Winning is important, but not at the expense of holistic athlete development

The competitive experience must serve the athlete. Of course, when they enter a competition, they’re hoping to win a medal or step onto the podium.

Unfortunately, often these young athletes feel excessive pressure to win at all costs. Many parents and coaches live vicariously through the victories of their children and athletes.

It isn’t rare to see athletes urged to use banned substances, to cheat, or to behave in an unacceptable manner in order to win.

Competition must provide athletes with the opportunity for living moments of truth. Consequently, they’ll be able to tackle adversity, conquer challenges, and face defeat and victory, victory being a source of motivation and defeat, a source of learning.

I am completely against winning at all costs. Victory must be reached with respect for rules and opponents, and with integrity and dignity.

We must remember that competition isn’t an end in itself, but a step along the athlete development pathway.

It is more important to develop the talent, to exploit one’s own talent, to be a relentless, disciplined worker with an irreproachable work ethic.

As a coach, we must create a culture of excellence built on a feeling of belonging and team spirit.

For me, when talent meets work and sincere engagement, success is never very far away.

Success comes from work and talent, but it stems mostly from human experience built on respect and mutual friendship in the spirit of mutual prosperity, all centered on passion, pride, the desire to win, and surpassing oneself.

Our athletes are first and foremost human beings and sport – the competitive experience – must serve to shape accomplished young adults that believe in the future and who will be active participants in the development of our society.

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