Victory lap?

2012-05-25 13:44



Victory lap?

Reader question:

What does this sentence – If you do things as well as he has, you maybe deserve a victory lap or two – mean?

My comments:

Here, the speaker is encouraging you to perform – perform well and get recognized for it.

A victory lap is otherwise known as a lap of honor, referring originally to a runner running around the track after winning a race in a sports meet. Lap refers to circling the track once. One journey. The track length in the Olympics is 400 meters, for instance. The 10,000-meter race will therefore take 25 laps to complete.

When winners come back to the field to run another lap, it’s called a lap of honor because it is literally a lap run in order for the audience to cheer in honor of the winner. It’s the same as singers going back to the stage for an encore, or encores if the hysterical audience really holler for it.

Anyways, in the top example, I see two things for “you”. And there’s good news, as well as bad news.

Bad news first. The bad news is you haven’t done anything yet. Perhaps, “he”, the other person being spoken of, has done something remarkable – not necessarily on the race track. Can be anything, getting good grades in an exam, winning a singing contest, writing good poems. Anything. And he wins praises from the speaker. You don’t get similar praises heaped on you and you wonder why. The speaker explains, pointing out that you haven’t done anything as well as the other person has. Therefore, the upshot is that you don’t deserve getting praised. No bragging rights.

That’s the bad news. Now the good news. The good news is that you can be as good as the other guy. Otherwise, you see, the speaker will not have made the comparison in the first place.


Alright. The speaker thinks you can be as good as the other guy. If you put your mind to it and, more importantly, put in the effort, you can achieve what the other fellow achieves. Then you will have a victory lap of your own to celebrate.

It’s all achievable and within reach. All up to you.


Alright, and to sum up, for someone to say you don’t deserve a victory lap is for them to point out that you haven’t done anything yet, therefore have no cause to celebrate.

Here are a few recent media examples. Read them, learn how to use this phrase today and you’ll deserve a victory lap of your own.

Of sorts.

I mean, small and petty an achievement as it may be, mastering a phrase a day is, nonetheless, something worth celebrating.

The examples:

1. The space shuttle Discovery went out in high-flying style. After three spectacular spins above the US capital, the world’s most travelled spaceship completed its final flight and was ready to become a grounded museum relic.

But what an exit. Discovery took victory laps around the White House, the Capitol and the Washington Monument that elicited cheers and awe the same sounds and emotions that used to accompany every thunderous launch.

Bolted to the top of a modified jumbo jet, the shuttle took off at daybreak on Tuesday, local time, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Three hours later, the combo took a few final swoops around Washington at an easy-to-spot 1,500-foot(457-meter) altitude.

“It was pretty amazing,” said 12-year-old Riley Jacobsen of Bethesda, Maryland. “Pretty freaking crazy. It looked like it was inflated.”

- Space shuttle Discovery takes victory lap,, April 18, 2012.

2. Google made headlines earlier this week when Nevada issued the first drivers license for a self-driving car. The next day, the car was spotted taking a victory lap in Washington, D.C.

For years, Google has been working to perfect a driverless car that uses video cameras, radar sensors, Google Maps, and a laser range finder to navigate traffic. Apparently, the company has all-but-perfected its fleet of Toyota Prius hybrids—Monday, Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles approved Google’s “car of the future” to operate on state roads.

Experts have speculated that Google may have been taking lawmakers for a ride in the Prius, which was spotted Tuesday in Northwest and Northeast D.C., but officials for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology said they had no knowledge of Google’s plans. Several E-mails to Google were unreturned.

“If I was to guess, they would be giving free rides to impress policymakers,” Anthony Park, a research scientist and writer for Driverless Car HQ, a site that follows the industry, wrote in an E-mail.

Wooing lawmakers would be nothing new—the company reportedly spent $5 million lobbying Congress between January and March, more than Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft combined.

- Did Google Take Lawmakers For a Victory Lap in its Driverless Car?, May 11, 2011.

3. Mitt Romney’s May Day plan seemed pretty reasonable for a man who had been systematically and successfully clearing his path to the Republican nomination for more than a year.

Republicans had been quietly dinging President Obama throughout the previous weekend for appearing to be taking a victory lap leading up to the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The Obama campaign helped the GOP’s case by posting a Web video featuring Bill Clinton praising Mr. Obama for making the right decision on that dramatic night one year ago. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., decried it as a “shameless end-zone dance” designed to aid the president’s re-election in a news release. “I’ve had the great honor of serving in the company of heroes,” McCain also told Bill O’Reilly on Fox News. “And you know the thing about heroes? They don’t brag.”

- The Advantages of Incumbency,, May 4, 2012.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


Deer in headlights?

Scratching the surface?

Keep his feet to the fire

Last time I checked

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)

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