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The Pain of Coming Second

From the website Australians At Work.
Video clip synopsis – Georgina Parkes and Lisa Forrest are competing together in the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. The loser, Georgina Parkes, struggles with her disappointment.
Year of production - 1984
Duration - 2min 23sec
Tags - athletes, competition, success, see all tags


The Pain of Coming Second

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About the Video Clip


The Pain of Coming Second is an excerpt from the film We Both Want To Win (24 mins), an episode of the series Striving (8 × 25 mins), produced in 1984.

We Both Want To Win: The goal is to win Commonwealth Games gold medals for the women’s 100m and 200m backstroke events. We follow two top contenders, both Australians: Georgina Parkes and Lisa Forrest. Their approaches to the impending confrontation are different, reflecting the training methods of their coaches. The rivalry between the girls is intense and culminates in the final – where there is a winner… and a loser.

Striving: This series takes a close personal look at 11 athletes preparing for and competing in the Brisbane Commonwealth Games in 1982 in an effort to understand what makes people suffer enormous physical and emotional stress to become top world athletes. They come from diverse backgrounds but all share a drive to win. Why do they do it? Each athlete tries to explain. They discuss their early involvement in sport and their reasons for striving to become the best. Families and coaches talk about their part in preparing and motivating the athletes to win.

Striving was produced by Film Australia.

Curriculum Focus


Reading standard: Students read and view imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that explore ideas and information relating to challenging topics, themes and issues. They explore the ideas, themes and issues explored in these texts, and provide supporting evidence to justify their interpretations. They produce personal responses, for example, interpretive pieces and character profiles.

Writing standard: Students produce, in print and electronic forms, texts for a variety of purposes, including speculating, hypothesizing, persuading and reflecting. They write arguments that state and justify a personal viewpoint; reports incorporating challenging themes and issues; personal reflections on, or evaluations of, texts presenting challenging themes and issues.

Speaking and listening standard: Students express creative and analytical responses to texts, themes and issues. They identify main issues in a topic and provide supporting detail and evidence of opinions.

The activities in this learning module are relevant to the Interdisciplinary Learning strand of Level 5 Communications (Listening, viewing and responding standard; Presenting standard) and Thinking Processes (Reasoning, processing and inquiry standard; Creativity standard).

The activities are also relevant to the Physical, Personal and Social Learning strand of Level 5 Interpersonal Development (Building social relationships standard; Working in teams standard) and Personal Learning (The individual learner standard; Managing personal learning standard).

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


Although winning and losing is part of organized sport, our culture often bombards us with messages that winning is everything.

Professional sportspeople, who are often our role models, are in it to win. It is different for amateurs and children, where having fun, getting exercise and learning social skills are just as important.

For children, the focus on outcomes rather than performance can be detrimental. When children lose, some may feel like a failure and perceive themselves to have less ability than others. Children should learn that they do not have to win in order to have a successful performance. High effort and the accomplishment of personal goals can provide a sense of success for the child.

Well-prepared athletes will handle their performance and the performance of their competitors in a positive and sportsmanlike manner. A losing outcome does not negatively impact the athletes’ confidence if the coach and athletes have been successful in developing a winning attitude.

Classroom Activities

  1. Before you view the video clip, discuss and list points on the following questions and quotes.
    1. ‘In sport, winning is everything!’
    2. How does winning or losing affect an individual sportsperson compared with a team?
    3. Define the terms ‘good sport’ and ‘bad sport’.
    4. ‘It doesn’t matter if you win or lose — it’s how you play the game’.
    5. Is coming second losing?
    1. Write a 50-word description of the purpose of an award ceremony at the end of a game or competition.
    2. Construct a list of emotions and thoughts you felt when you lost a game or competition that you thought you were going to win.
    3. Imagine you are a sports coach and write a 250-word speech to give your competitor or team after they came second in a competition.
    1. Research the athlete John Landy and write an explanation of why is he considered a fine example of a good sportsman.
    2. Discuss and define the ‘ugly parent’ syndrome. Write a one-page script of a scene involving an ugly parent at a sporting event.
    3. View the video clip again and list ten examples that show ‘the pain of coming second’.

Further Resources


Drama Feature
Gurinder Chadha (director), Bend it Like Beckham, 20th Century Fox Distributiuon, 2002
Jerry Bruckheimer (director), Remember the Titans, Buena Vista International, 2000