That’s exactly the danger of what too much ambition can do: Narrow the range of acceptable outcomes to the ridiculous, and then make anything less seem like utter failure. It’s irrational, but so are most forms of psychological addiction. You can’t break the spell merely by throwing logic at it.
Over-dosing on ambition isn’t just an occupational hazard of sports. It goes for all walks of life. I’ve met many extremely accomplished people who’ve had the grave misfortune of reaching one too many of their goals, only to be saddled with an impossibly high baseline for success. It’s devoured their intrinsic motivation, leaving nothing but an increasingly impossible search for another fix of blow-it-out-the-park success. When that doesn’t happen, the withdrawal is a bitch.
Thanks to Chris Baus for the link!