Eniola Aluko on how Olympic gold winners inspire her at end of the WSL season

There has been a fascinating debate during these Olympics about what winning and losing means to the competing athletes at Rio 2016.

Although I disagree with a lot of what Piers Morgan says on social media, I was in strong agreement with his tweets last week about the mentality of settling for a silver or bronze medal and celebrating like it was a gold.

I think it comes down to the individual and whether they are reaching for the very top to get the ultimate prize, or are satisfied with coming second or third.

Eniola Aluko

As a top-level sportswoman, I have my own experiences of the difference between all three, having won a bronze at the 2015 World Cup and a silver at the European Championship in 2009, and also winning last season’s Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Cup.

All of those medals felt fantastic but I would make no secret of the fact that the two I won with Chelsea felt the best – because we won.

I understand that every athlete has their own journey and challenges to overcome that may mean that they see silver or bronze as a ‘win’ for them but personally I would like to think that they all want to strive to be the best.

When you look at the athletes at the very top of their respective sports, you can see how relentless they are in their pursuit of winning.

Swimming legend Michael Phelps is a great example of this, because after winning his
23rd Olympic gold medal at these Games, he clearly does not settle for anything less.

So I understand Morgan’s point that Team GB needs that mentality too, or gold would not have been the benchmark in Brazil or for our next generation of athletes.

Thankfully, Team GB are now sitting nicely in second place in the medals table, with cycling superstars Laura Trott and Jason Kenny collecting five golds between them in Rio. They have 10 in total, which is a fantastic achievement.

Jose Mourinho

Mourinho’s winning habit will be the difference

The same principle applies at the top of the Premier League too, where some clubs seem to see finishing second, third or fourth as a “win”.

The main reason I think Manchester United will win the title this season is because they have signed proven winners like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba and finishing first is all that matters to their manager Jose Mourinho too.

Mourinho knows how to achieve it because he has done it so many times before. I believe his winning experience in the Premier League will be the defining difference between him and Pep Guardiola this season, although it is a difficult one to call.

Fear of losing drives my desire to win

I saw a quote recently from tennis world number one Serena Williams about how she hates losing more than she loves winning, and I can definitely relate to that.

Sometimes the fear of losing acts as a motivator for me to do all that I can – within the rules – to win and when you have that kind of desire it is not always easy to deal with defeat.

I saw that this week with one of my former team-mates, United States goalkeeper Hope Solo, after her side were knocked out of the Olympic tournament on penalties by Sweden in the quarter-finals.

Hope already has two Olympic gold medals and is the most decorated goalkeeper, male or female, playing in the world.

She is a serial winner and one of the reasons she has had the career she has is that she is one of the best winners – and worst losers – that I know.

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