[Quran 2:148] Each of you chooses the direction to follow; you shall race towards righteousness. Wherever you may be, GOD will summon you all. GOD is Omnipotent.
[Quran 5:48] ... You shall compete in righteousness. To GOD is your final destiny―all of you...
To win at the Olympics, World Cup, or Superbowl: humans dedicate their life and spend many long years training. This is expected. We cannot hope for an Olympic medal through wishful thinking--we must train hard. It is the same in the Hereafter. God tells us we were created to work hard to redeem our souls (Quran 90:4-19).
[90:4] We created the human being to work hard (to redeem himself).*
A big difference, is that in worldly competition only a few will walk away with a gold medal or coveted victory. The rest are considered losers.
But in God’s incredible system, we can all be winners (Quran 2:5, 3:104, 7:8). We may cross the finish line at different times, but if we are righteous, God rewards us all. Righteous competition (Quran 23:61) leaves everyone gaining credit with God.
[23:61] They are eager to do righteous works; they compete in doing them.
The sacrifices for victory in this life may be forgotten when next year's winners are announced. In God's system, Paradise is eternal. No wonder God calls it the "greatest triumph" (5:119, 6:16, 9:72, 9:100).
[9:72] GOD promises the believing men and the believing women gardens with flowing streams, wherein they abide forever, and magnificent mansions in the gardens of Eden. And GOD's blessings and approval are even greater. This is the greatest triumph.
Winning gold medals in this world and the associated fame may create a tougher test with risks of pride and ego unconsciously becoming our god. This is not to say winning in this world is inherently bad. If we remembered and appreciated God or strove in His way due to that win, then it will be rewarded in the Hereafter. However, compare this with the real trumph: in all cases if we are a winner according to God (e.g., 2:2-5, 3:104, 9:20, 9:88, etc.), it comes with associated joy (not risks or problems).
Further, in God's system there are no unfair advantages. Everyone is born with the same natural instinct to worship God alone (7:172, 30:30). We all have the same training manual, the Quran. It details the best exercises to grow our souls. And who better can we ask for as a coach and Teacher, than God, the Most Gracious (55:1-2)?
The Intelligent Alternative
[57:21] Therefore, you shall race towards forgiveness from your Lord, and a Paradise whose width encompasses the heaven and the earth. It awaits those who believed in GOD and His messengers. Such is GOD's grace that He bestows upon whomever He wills. GOD is Possessor of Infinite Grace.