Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Wednesday, 10 August 2005 15:39 UK

What does it take to be a winner?

Runner Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia
Who is the hero in your life?

What does it take to be a winner? BBC Africa Live wants to know if winners are born or made.

As the World Athletics Championships take place in Finland's capital, Helsinki, athletic champions are defending their titles while newcomers try to stamp their mark.

But winning is not just confined to sports. If you win a business contract or a job, what contributes to your winning bid?

And in warfare, the winner takes all - power, prestige and control over our lives.

Who is your favourite winner? Is it all about medals and high achievement? Have you ever won anything in your life? What about losing, is it important to learn from your mistakes to become a winner? Send us your comments and experiences.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

Edward Khakame

A winner has a broader perspective about life greater than self interest.
Chidi Odiogo, London

Winners go after their goal possessively. Winners are born, not made. I think people are mistaking roll-models for winners.
Yonas, Ethiopian in USA

Without winners, there would be no failures. Without failures, there would be no winners.
Uche, USA

To be famous and rich is a fool's dream but to influence nature and be a benefit to humanity is a dream of winners.
F Makafui Lanyon, Ghanaian in European Union

In Africa to win in a competitive bid you have got to be within the 'inner circle' or have the right connections!
Freeman Tettey, Ghana

What is the true definition of a winner? The first to complete a race? The receiver of the majority of votes? If these conditions are only met through the use of corrupt or exploitative practices then the real best man or woman in Africa has almost no chance of ever being a winner unless they are judged on effort, honesty and morality. Dictators will terrorise, plunder, kill and rape to declare themselves the best, yet they are truly the worst.
Sophia, UK

My simple example of a winner in life is the Nobel Prize Winner, Wole Soyinka. He has been rumoured to have sat for the English Language exams several times before even achieving an ordinary pass. Soyinka is now a household name.
Babatunde Timothy-Taiwo Aebisi, Nigeria

Winning only comes after you fail. Therefore, failing is the key factor in learning how to win.
Moti Oliqa, Australia

I think success/winning should be determined not so much by ones achievements but by the number of obstacles one had to overcome so as to win/succeed.
Arime Wani, Canada

Winning and losing are products of the net sum of our collective undertakings
Mohammed Mulat, San Jose

Are winners born or made? Surely, winners are made not born; for winning and losing are products of the net sum of our collective undertakings and as such, winning and losing are products of our efforts, not the products of our DNA make-up.
Mohammed Mulat, San Jose, USA

As we can see from the comment of Ms Vassiliki, USA. Her children just do their best as sons and daughters should do for their parent. Not to be better than anyone else. That is winning.
Paisan, Thailand

Winners don't quit, and quitters don't win.
Kunle Adeogun, UK

My Sofy is a winner: She is a great fighter and an absolute winner! She was raised by her single Mom and never got bitter about absentees in her life. When children "walk away" from grown up mistakes and decide to prevail in school and in their professional life, they are indeed winners!
Vassiliki, Senegal

Individuals or governments who display superior moral characters and values will always end up becoming winners. Morality leads directly to material wealth, power and prestige. Ere, UK

A winner is the one who teaches his new born how to walk, how to talk but not how to hate.
Solomon Hailu, Ethiopian in USA

If all of us were given the opportunity to excel, all of us would find our niches and become winners
Mezgebe Gebr Ekiristos, USA

In order to win in life one must have the opportunity to be in the playing field in the first place. For instance, there are many successful Africans who got the chance to immigrate to the western countries where the opportunity to go to colleges and universities is higher than in their country of origin. It is safe to say that they are in a 'winner' position.

Now, this is not to say the people the people who did not cross ocean to western countries are deemed to losers but it is clear that they are not winners in life. After all, if all of us were given the opportunity to excel, all of us would find our niches and become winners in our own rights.
Mezgebe Gebr Ekiristos, USA

There is no formula to be a winner, you just got to have it in your blood.
Ibrahim Bedaso, Sagure Oromia

My favourite winner is the former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela. Why, one, after winning elections in 1994, he stayed in power for one term and retired voluntarily. As a true statesman he knew that the country is bigger than an individual and it will be thereafter us all.

Two, after being tortured and being imprisoned with some of his colleagues for twenty seven years, he told the black majority in South Africa that, there is no need for revenge against the perpetrators of the apartheid regime but only forgiveness. Today, South Africa is leading the way in the entire continent of Africa in the areas of peace and development issues.
Joseph Riwongole, Kapenguria, Kenya

Winning is everything.
Arefaine Tesfay, Texas USA

Winners are born. They are the sons and daughters of their aspirations. Winners are made. They are the product of their past.
Andenet, Ethiopia

Any able bodied person can be a winner if they so wish provided they are in the right environment, place and at the right time. Unfortunately the best man does not always win in Africa. I have always seen the electorate choosing the worst of leaders at the time of election because they have either been blinded or confused in the process.
Shuttie FN Libuta, Kitwe, Zambia

In Africa, it is not always the best man or woman who wins. A lot of other factors come into play in deciding the winner. There is what we call here "connectocracy". That is an individual's connections in society sometimes play a key role in whether he/she wins. Money and other incentives also play a role.
Alagie Fadera, The Gambia

For me a winner is someone with undying spirit, who dedicates his entire life for the betterment of human kind
Lebasse Kassa, Ethiopia

Love and patience are the key factors for success. For me a winner is someone with undying spirit, who dedicates his entire life for the betterment of human kind regardless of colour, ethnic background, gender and other elements. The late Mother Teresa and Che Guevara are some of the winners whose name shall be remembered from generation to generation.
Lebasse Kassa, Ethiopia

I think winners or losers as such don't exist. The so-called today's winners might be tomorrows eventual losers and vice versa, as time plays an important factor here. People who never hesitate to lose if their eventual success means they have to undermine the well-being of others. They are to me the eventual winners!
Abel T Mariam, Ethiopian in Germany

Winning comes from a mix of hard work, resilience, focus, and oh yes... luck. Of course it hurts to lose, but one must learn to be a good loser as well as a good winner in order to remain focused to tackle the next challenge. I know the humblest winners, though almost never recognized, are women who are able to bring up a family in the hardest situations of despair such as poverty, war and other natural calamities.
Cajeni, Kenya

Genes play a big role in determining the type of activities you excel in. We can offset bad genes to a certain extent by extraordinary effort.
Ajay, USA

A winner is someone who achieved what he set out to achieve. Losing for some is a motivation, and for others is the beginning of the downhill journey. But how would we know what winning is, if there is no losing?
Fitsum Ambachew, USA

There are many unsung heroes and winners among us who have not yet, and may never be recognised, yet they are and will remain winners. They stay a course and persevere, and with determination succeed in whatever they do. These are my winners.
JC, Miami, USA

My children are winners! We came as refugees to the USA; they never complained about our financial situation, never were jealous about classmates, never challenged me as a single Mom. Instead they stayed in school and today I have three college graduates and the world has three great human beings! I am proud and honoured to be their mother.
Vassiliki, USA

Winning is not everything! The perception that winning is everything, and not service to society, has changed Africa from a continent of progress to one of regress today. Africans want to win by all means necessary, even if it means killing others in the process.
Peter Nehsahn, United States

The only formula for winning is no formula. A winner shreds pride, allows his dignity to be trampled on, endures shame and goes out of his way to become a fool for the benefit of not only himself but others.
Patrick Ayumu, Ghana

Those who do not measure their victory against the loss of others are the true winners.
Alem Mamo, Ottawa, Canada

Yes, there is a formula, and that is knowing your ABCD:
Thanks Dad for teaching me the real ABC of life.
Yaron, Eritrea

There is no formula to be a winner. To win any competition, or any set goals, it all depends on hard work, dedication and prayer. When I was in elementary and high school, back in Africa, I used to compete to become number one in my class, and I did so several times. So I believe having a great focus and desire to win is the answer.
Dadala, Canada

The fact that one is participating in a competition is in itself a winning position. All have the same result; that is you either take the gold or get a handshake for being a part.
E Julu Swen, Monrovia, Liberia

I think winning is not about getting there first, but rather knowing where you are heading to.
Benny Biniyam, USA

A true winner makes people around him feel the essence and warmth of his winning
Azzika, Ghanaian in Netherlands

Medals and high achievements are only symbols of where you have reached, but a true winner makes people around him feel the essence and warmth of his winning, so that the people around him benefit from his toil. To be a winner is not the presence of opportunities, and it is equally not the absence of flaws but the mastery of flaws. Winners begin as revolutionaries, but later on they must become slaves to serve the people who helped them win.
Azzika Tanko Yussif, Ghanaian in Netherlands

A winner is somebody who has lived a full life. If you have achieved your aspirations, then you are a winner. But a winner must not be overwhelmingly ambitious because he may be disappointed if he fails along the way.
Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi, Uganda

A winner is one who sets a goal, endeavours to achieve it, and accepts the result and learns from it. A loser is, however, one who gave up right from the outset.
Worku, Ethiopia

Winning is not all about one person, but about everyone. It takes humility, faith, love, diligence, respect and kindness to be a winner. I feel much more of a winner when I help others to be a winner like me.
Nyokabi Kahura, Kenya

We are all winners in one respect or other. Just because you haven't won a medal, or a gold cup, it doesn't make one a loser.
Professor Bestman Larmena, United States

A winner is anyone who overcomes personal challenges for example if you write an exam and pass it means you are a winner. I remember my late father who told me that if you want to defeat poverty you must work or study extra hard. In this regard of being a winner is to achieve a goal. Losing brings hate for example when I failed my grade seven exams in 1984. I hated all my friends who had passed thinking they were boasting which wasn't the case. Where there is a will there is always a way.
Chibwinja Francisfchi, Kitwe, Zambia

A winner is somebody who fights a good fight of faith, belief and hope and remains standing at the end of it all having overcome obstacles, disappointments, setbacks, trials and tribulations. To be a winner one has to remain focused on what they seek to achieve, ignoring the many distractions that come along, and prepared to deal with failures in the process.
Pacharo Kayira, Malawi

A winner is one who suffers for others, like Mandela
Dawit, Ethiopia

A winner, from my point of view, is a person whose fate is satisfying the public, not himself. It is someone who buries his needs and only the satisfaction of his relatives is his satisfaction. He is one who wants to see the public proud of what he has done for them. Precisely speaking, a winner is one who suffers for others, like Mandela - the real man of our earth.
Dawit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

As my teacher said years ago: "A winner never quits and a quitter never wins." I think that is a very simple formula that can be applicable.
Kali Kalit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Every individual must aspire to be a winner
Francis Owusu-Ansah, Ghana

A winner is anyone who sees opportunities in challenges and works towards overcoming these challenges to the benefit of all. Every individual must aspire to be a winner. Overcoming challenges is only possible through dedication, prayer, tactfulness, precision and consistency.
Francis Owusu-Ansah, Sunyani, Ghana

Winning for me is being mentally independent of any outside opinions and pressures.
Mamo, Virginia, USA

Ethiopians are winners, and then Kenyans are.
Anon, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

A winner is an individual who is able to adopt and overcome obstacles in the environment.
Wa Wangari, Bellwood, IL, USA

In 2002 I won the chairmanship of my community called the Nasir Community Association in North America [NCA]. I would like to assure everyone that being a winner is not a joke. One must waste one's time dealing with people. And it's important to share the fun too - eating food together, being loyal to all of them, not ignoring a single person and participating daily in community activities.
Pal Gatkuoth Deng, Nebraska, USA

To be a winner, better yet a champion, you must have dedication, perseverance and love for the sport, and, above all, love for the nation and people one represents. Selling out your roots and the land of your birth for economic gain, however many times one becomes a winner, would never make you a champion.
Tito, USA

One should be able to see oneself achieving goals when one plans for it.
Ghirmay, India

I haven't won anything remarkable. Except for when my life was on a hinge, waiting for admission to higher education in Ethiopia. I was so relieved when I learned I was accepted into medical school. Most of winning in life comes with hard work and perseverance. Luck also plays a part.
Zeleke, Silver Spring, USA

Their victory is one way of telling the world that we all are the same and if we get the opportunity we are victorious like everybody else
Henok, Ethiopia/USA

Winning is not just one extra medal. It is about taking the name of a country one step forward. It is about clearing the negative image that most western people have in their mind about Ethiopia, where the lady in the picture above is from. Their victory is one way of telling the world that we all are the same and if we get the opportunity we are victorious like everybody else.
Henok, Boston, MA, USA/Ethiopia

Interesting! A real hero is one who dedicates his or her life for the betterment of society. The Golden Ethiopian Athletes are a source of inspiration to millions of Ethiopian youth including me.
Muluneh Yohannes, Ethiopian in USA

I admire all African athletes for what they achieve for the continent, especially Maria Mutola of Mozambique and the Ethiopian athletes who give Africa such a good name in the eye of international community.
Peter Tuach, USA

Hard work combined with honesty and dedication are the key to being a winner.
Solomon, Canada

There is no formula to be a winner except for hard work and determination. A winner in my view is one who sets forth his goals in life and tries harder, no matter how long, till he or she fulfils those goals.
Kinfe, Ethiopian in Dallas, TX, USA

The formula for winning is prayer, hard work and dedication
Omorodion Osula, Boston

A winner to me is someone who is hard working and dedicated to what ever task he or she undertakes. A winner can also be someone who gives it all regardless of how big or small the task is. During my college days, I contested for the department's election and I won. I became the president of Business Education Student Association in our final year. In fact, I was very happy when I was declared the winner of the election. Words were not enough to express my joys and appreciation.

The formula for winning is prayer, hard work and dedication. Success does not happen overnight. It is something that you work for. There is always a reward for hard work. Although it is painful to lose in anything one does, but don't give up. Life is full of ups and downs. When you lose, sit back and re-evaluate your mistakes and try to improve on it. The goal of everyone is to be a winner.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

Ethiopia's great athletes such as Kenenisa Bekele, Silesh Sehen, Haile Gebrselassie, Tirunesh Dibaba, Worknesh Dibaba, Berhane Aderie, Elfnesh Ejigu all will be winners. I thank them for their dedication.
Sisay, Ethiopia


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