Tuesday, 9 October 2007

What Can we Learn from Lewis Hamilton?

How did the boy from the other side of the track become the fastest man on it?

I saw an interesting programme about the Lewis Hamilton, the 22 year old, black, English racing driver who looks set to take the World Championship in his very first season.

His story started at age 7 when he played with remote control racing cars. Even at that age, his focus was intense following a release of emotion by punching the air in a victory gesture.

He moved on to karting. His dedicated father and he were “sick with ambition”. As a family they had nothing but his father took on extra jobs to pay for the karting. Motor racing is traditionally a sport for white boys with financial backing. His younger brother was born with cerebral palsy so also required financial help and attention. He is now Lewis’ biggest fan.

At age 10, Lewis was featured in a “Black Britain” documentary. He went on to become a black belt in karate to deal with bullying at school. He was disciplined, always did his homework and concentrated on karting. His father said he always knew success for Lewis was going to happen. He wants his story to inspire other kids.

At age 12 Lewis was featured on Blue Peter and again at 15.

At the 1995 Annual Autosport Awards, Lewis met the McLaren boss, Ron Dennis. He asked him for his autograph, address and telephone number. Dennis wrote, Contact me in 9 years, we’ll sort something out then”. Three years later he signed a driver’s contract with McLaren. He was not even old enough to drive a car on the road!

From winning every karting contest Lewis moved into car racing with Formula Renault in 2002, followed by Formula 3 in the F3 Euro Series 2005, then G2 and finally Formula One. This rookie now looks set to take the World Championship on Sunday in Brazil. He was on the podium every race for the first nine. He would have won the championship in China on Sunday were it not for a technical failure.

Even if Lewis does not win which is unlikely, he has still achieved so much by such a young age. His rise to success has been compared to that of the young black golfer, Tiger Woods. He is actually of mixed race with a modern image, a sense of calm, determination and self-belief which are all good qualities for him to portray as a young male role model.

Murray Walker, the former motor racing commentator, said that Lewis is likely to become the highest paid UK sports person ever. Kimi Reikkonen’s manager believes Lewis will be the first racing driver to earn £100 million pa.

Polite, clean cut, pretty hip, girls love him and guys want to be him. He is a marketeer’s dream just like David Beckham although as someone said, “Beckham did not win the World Cup. Hamilton will win the World Championship.”

When suggested that Lewis will be the next David Beckham or Michael Schumacher, he replied, “He’s going to be the next Hamilton”

One of a kind. He deserves all the success.

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