Monday, July 4, 2011

The Highs and the Lows

Just two months ago, the current World Champion of the most demanding and prestigious motorsport of F1, Sebastian Vettel was forbidden to drink the traditional celebratory champagne because he was not old enough to consume alcohol in the host country of Turkey. A few weeks ago Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy (22 years old) became the youngest US Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923 and the current World Number 1 in Tennis, Novak Djokovic is only 24 years old. 

Too young for bubbly?
Most of these people started in their respective sports at a very young age, through 'active encouragement' by their parents so it is not surprising that they peak early. And as it is being reported that 20% of us will live up to 100, if you reach the pinnacle of your profession - in these cases, sport - at such a young age, what is your next challenge, and how do you stay motivated for the remaining (potentially) 75% of your life?

In the case of motorsport, the last 3 youngest F1 World Driver's Champions (WDC) (Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel) gained this accolade while they were still under 25 years old! It begs the question: at what age did their parents decide to introduce them to motorsport and how could a parent put their young child in an automobile or even a go-Kart?
It is true that motorsport is now much safer than at any time in its history but these children are taught from a very young age to be fearless and take risks. With high risks, come big rewards (F1 drivers are some of the top-earning sportmen) so perhaps this is the stuff of World Champions?

Blessing or a Curse?
Fernando Alonso followed his 2005 Championship winning year with another one, making him the youngest DOUBLE-World Champion. However he has since been plagued with several 'issues' and hasn't really been in a position to win another championship since 2006. 

His successor to the throne of youngest World Champion was Lewis Hamilton, who took the title in 2008 in dramatic fashion to become the youngest WDC at 23 years, 301 days, just shy of his 24th birthday. Unfortunately for Hamilton, he hasn't been in a championship-winning car since winning his first title and this has given way to several frustrating years and rumours of switching teams.

In a complete reversal of fortunes, the current youngest champion, Vettel, IS in a championship-winning car and could take away Fernando's title of youngest DOUBLE WDC if he wins this year. He would only be 24 years and 146days. Trouble is once you get used to the high of winning, it might be difficult to get used to the low of being an also-ran.