There was a report in the paper about some minor member of the royal family having achieved some ranking like “412th in the world” in some sport. I wonder what it is like to reach this sort of level of achievement? When I was at school there were a couple of sporting stars—one in tennis, one in swimmingwho put in astonishing hours of effort to achieve in their sport. As far as I remember, they were similarly ranked somewhere in the low-hundreds in the country.
At one hand, this is rather a success. Being ranked, say, 243rd in tennis in a country of 60 million is an incredible achievement. On the other hand, it is quite depressing, particularly once you reach your peak and realise that that is as far as you are going to get (this is one of the benefits of intellectual activities—you can always have the hope that you might improve yourself next year, whereas in most sports raw physical constraints set in early).
I really can’t imagine what this is like, whether it is ultimately an amazing feeling that you got to the semi-professional level of an activity, or depressing that you never made it to the top. I suppose in the end it comes down to your motivation for doing the activity.