Gente que Cuenta

The fourth man,
by Clifford Thurlow

Pavel Kuragin Atril press
Pavel Kuragin,
Frustration, 2023

leer en español

      In the 2012 Olympics, Mo Farah won gold in the 10,000 metres. He went on to win the 5,000 metres and both races again four years later in 2016.

His was a great human interest story – the barefoot boy from Somalia who learned to run in the desert and took up athletics after immigrating to the UK. After winning gold, he was chosen as BBC Sports Personality of the Year and was knighted in 2017 by Queen Elizabeth.

On the podium with Mo that day in 2012 was the silver medallist Galen Rupp, from the United States, and bronze winner Tariku Bekele, from Ethiopia.

Who was the fourth man?

He is not listed. For four long years he had trained for this race. He saw the finishing tape come into view at the same time as Mo, Galen and Tariku – and was beaten by a single breath, a heartbeat, the blink of an eye. Mo gets knighted and rich. The fourth man is unknown, forgotten.

Success and failure are so close they touch like yin and yang. Each contains the seed of their opposite, a sign of their similarity.

Alexander Fleming in 1928 returned from holiday to find mould growing on a sandwich he had forgotten to eat. The mould had produced a self-defence chemical that killed bacteria. Dr Fleming wouldn’t have won prizes for keeping his laboratory in order and, as a result, developed the antibiotic penicillin that has saved millions of lives and turned a small failing into a grand success.

Failure leads to feelings of low self-esteem, hopelessness, depression, the fourth man psychosis. We tell ourselves that if we had just tried a little harder, trained a little more, sharpened our focus, we would have succeeded. According to Lao-tzu – a wiser contemporary of Confucius: ‘The common people often fail at the point of succeeding.’

Failure is a matter of perception and success a state of mind, often a matter of luck, chance, who you know, who your dad knows. We beat ourselves up trying to be the best but being as good as you can be, that is success.

Clifford Thurlow Atril press
Clifford Thurlow was born in London and started work as a junior reporter on a local newspaper aged 18. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. He worked as the editor of the Athens News in Greece, managed a travelling dolphin show in Spain and studied Buddhism in India, leading to the publication of his first book, Stories from Beyond the Clouds, an anthology of Tibetan folk stories.
He met actress Carol White in Hollywood and wrote her memoirs, Carol Comes Home. It was the first of a dozen books as a ghostwriter, including the Sunday Times bestseller Today I’m Alice – the story of multiple personality disorder survivor Alice Jamieson. His lates book, How to Rob the Bank of England, will be published in September 2024.

by the same author


Compartir en

    ¡Subscribe to our Newsletter!