The 22nd Winter Olympic Games are history. They ended last Sunday with an extravagant ceremony to close out the most expensive games ever. The temperatures that reached springtime level made for some interesting events. Thankfully the feared terrorist attacks did not occur.

As always, some “stars” failed to shine and other athletes took the spotlight. There are many stories of dreams denied and others realized. Records were broken and some of them by less than the blink of an eye. New events appeared in the line-up and controversial judging at the skating competition was once again a part of the story.

NBC televised 1500 hours of the competition and some of it without the perennial host Bob Costas. He had to be relieved a few days to get over a serious eye infection that was hindering his work. I enjoyed much of it but after a while it became repetitious and anti-climactic. Too much of a good thing.

I was especially interested in following the women’s two-person bob sled competition. This was not because I know anything about the sport but because one of the competitors was from Douglasville, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb where my family lived for 12 years. After crashing the sled in one of the trial runs, driver Elana Meyers and her brakeman barely missed the gold medal by 53/100ths of a second. How close can you get without winning?

Gracie Gold was one of the darlings of ice skating. She is the 2014 U.S. national champion and was expected to be on the podium to accept one of the medals for the U.S. in the Women’s Figure Skating competition. However, she failed to achieve that goal. After coming in fourth she was asked if she was disappointed. The teenager replied “I am fourth at the Olympic Games. What are you talking about? Why is that disappointing?”

I like that response. Of course she had hoped to come home with a medal. Of course she had trained long and hard with that goal in mind. But she realized that you don’t always have to be No. 1 to be a champion.

We live in a culture that tells us “win or go home” but winning is not what it is all about. Life is about doing your best. Giving your all. Constantly striving to improve. But you may never beat out all the others in the competition. You cannot always be at the top of the pile. You may never see your name at the top of the leader board.

It is OK to be 2nd or 3rd or whatever if you have prepared yourself and if you have done the best you can. You can learn from “losing” and that can be more valuable than “winning.” Life is an ongoing experience and even when you are at the head of the pack there is still much to learn.

The Apostle Paul said, “I do not count myself to have attained… but I press on ….” When you don’t achieve your goal, you don’t quit but you don’t despair. Just press on knowing that perfection is not the goal. Realizing one’s full potential is what should be the goal. When you have done that being number 2 or 4 is alright.

Jamie Jenkins