Life is a constant competition. It is about being the best we can be. Proving we can always improve. Compete against oneself. Compete and come out victorious.
People often say what really matters is participating regardless of who wins a particular contest, but that is not always the case.
“If you compete, it is to win, the second or third places don’t satisfy,” are words of Ayrton Senna da Silva, a three-time Formula One World Champion.
Senna’s philosophy and attitude toward life is one I admire and try to follow, knowing one sets one’s own limits. His passion and total commitment to his profession made him absolutely unique.
Senna personified the meaning of being a winner, a competitor, a risk taker. To him there was not a middle ground, no room for compromise. It was either everything or nothing.
Senna began driving at age 4 when his father built him a go-kart to tour around the garden. That first go-kart triggered in Senna a passion for the sport he mastered.
He won the Pan-American Kart Championship in 1977 and was runner-up in the Kart-World Championship in both 1979 and 1980.
He was the British champion of the Formula Ford 1600 in 1981, the British and European champion of the Formula Ford 2000 in 1982 and the British Formula-3 champion in 1983.
He then went on to the highest level of car racing, Formula One, where he made his debut in 1984 and won the 1988, 1990 and 1991 World Championships, setting all-time records along the way.
Winning in almost every single category, Senna never settled for less than a victory.
He was the best, but kept on working to become even better. To Ayrton Senna, “what really matters is to win.” Fame and fortune were a consequence of his success.
Senna taught me that winning is a state of mind, a fight that takes place in the inner self of an individual. He also taught me that risks give satisfaction. He was not afraid to take the risk, and he pushed his limits further with each race he drove.
He is considered one of the most, if not the most fearless competitor in the sport. He was unbeatable driving in the rain under circumstances other drivers would not attempt to take on at all. He drove simply because “the sensation of risk is attractive.”
In a world where people avoid talking about their goals because, fearing they will not reach them, Senna was never too shy to say what his plans were.
“I’m a very fortunate human being. I was born rich in a poor country. Winning is an obligation to me,” he said with confidence.
Those types of comments led the media to portray him as an arrogant, cocky type of person, but in reality he was much different.
His mystique was very spiritual and disciplined. He once stated, “I’ve a lot of things to learn, but I’ve found all the answers in God’s words.”
He knew he was putting his life on the line every time he was behind the wheel.
On May 1, 1994, during the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Italy, Senna’s Williams Renault crashed into a concrete wall at a speed of 300 mph. His body remained motionless in his seat, but his head shook as if he was saying no.
Even that day he was the fastest, and he crashed while in first place.
He did what he wanted. “If it ever happens that I’m in an accident that takes my life, I hope it is fast,” he said.
Doctors declared him dead a few hours later at a local hospital.
But believe me, he has not died.
Enrique Gutiérrez, a sophomore broadcasting major, is a staff writer of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.