Second place is wasted

We all know that the fastest 100m sprinter in the world is Usain Bolt.

A lot fewer people know of Asafa Powell – the second fastest sprinter in the world. If Powell were to walk across your street, would you be able to recognize him?

Powell’s 100m timing (9.74 s) is mere 2% slower than Bolt’s timing (9.58 s). All that separates first and second place at that level is about 200 milliseconds. And yet, Bolt is likely to be 100 times more popular than Powell worldwide.

The fastest women sprinter of all time is Florence Griffith-Joyner. How many of us knew about her? How much more underrated her achievement is?

We live in a winner take all world – one where first place is given all the fame, glamour and accolades, despite them being only a small whisker ahead of the people around them.

However, this also means that those who came second, who are merely a few insignificant percentage points behind, are usually up for grabs.

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