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Want to Know What Makes Bronze Medallists Happier Than Silver Winners?

by Rukmani Krishna on August 7, 2012 at 11:31 PM
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 Want to Know What Makes Bronze Medallists Happier Than Silver Winners?

There is a noted distinct difference in the emotional reactions of elite athletes who finish second and those who finish third, according to researchers.

After coming third in the 100-meter men's breaststroke finals this week, American Brendan Hansen was beaming and said "this is the shiniest bronze medal you will ever see".

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"Silver medalists may torment themselves with counter-factual thoughts, of 'If only...' or 'Why didn't I just'," Discovery News quoted the researchers writing in a study published after the 1992 Olympics.

"Bronze medalists, in contrast, may be soothed by the thought that, 'At least I won a medal'," they wrote.

In Hansen's case, reaching the podium was even sweeter because he'd finished in fourth place in Beijing.
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In contrast, Viktoria Komova had a meltdown after she learned of her silver medal in the all-around gymnastics competition.

In team sports, the explanation might seem obvious - the gold and silver medals are decided in the final match, so silver medalists leave on a losing note, whereas the bronze medalists play in a separate match and leave on a victorious note.

But even when the researchers left out those particular setups, the effect remained.

"Finishing second is truly a mixed blessing. Performing that well provides a number of direct benefits that increase our well-being: recognition from others, boosts to self-esteem, and so on," the researchers wrote.

"At the same time, it can indirectly lower satisfaction by the unfortunate contrast with what might have been," they added.

Source: ANI
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