(Taken from my diary, year 2000, of course edited)
Breathe in, breathe out. This is it. This is the time to rise and shine. This is what I’ve been training for, for the last 3 years.
Remember how you used to do 1,500 sit ups per day? Remember how you used to do push up 1,000 per day? Remember all the running, endlessly? Remember that pylometrics move you did earnestly every single day after rugby training? And people usually had to stop you for dinner? Not to mentioned those calling you crazy?
Yes, I do.
“Loosen up a bit”. The coach (more like manager, as I coached myself) shouted from afar. “No pressure”, he added.
Yeah right! If he was next to me, I’d park my foot up his ass.
On your mark! Everyone got on their lane, excessively trying to lock a perfect footing for the startup. I was still starring at my toes, wondering if I could ever pull this through.
It was the Men’s 100m Final (district level). On my right was the Perak runner, left was the runner-up. I’m sandwiched between two giants. I felt so small. At times like these, I wished they added IQ test on top of sprinting. Unfortunately, it’s a race of the fittest and fastest.
Locking my foot carefully, not to get tied to the staring block. I double checked just to be sure, trying my best to delay the start and pile the pressure on my neighbors.
Get set… The sweet serenity of Kuala Kangsar’s air suddenly became dense. The sky went dark, the crowds were at the edge of their seats.
POW! The gun went off.
Everything shuts down, except for my medulla oblangata. Adrenaline rushed in and out of my muscles. The next second, I was leading the pack. If only it was a 10 meter race, I would’ve been wearing the gold medal by then. Unfortunately Eddie, the race has just begun.
Slowly yet surely, both left and right runner were out-pacing me. No thanks to their genes (and maybe luck).
Half way down the lane, the three of us were side by side, shoulder to shoulder. (More like shoulder to neck, I am a little shorter than them). We were already at top speed. Everything went by so fast. It was pure ecstasy. If you ask any 100m runner, what is the hardest thing to do? It’ll definitely be maintaining top-speed. Yes, I too struggled at that time, so were my competitions.
This meter they took the lead, the next I snatched from the them. It was like 3 kids fighting over the same candy.
80m mark. We were still head to head. Having to run 100m for the past 3 years, I have developed an ultimate plan, or mind set. This is where you imagine something precious is falling and you need to catch it before it hits the ground. I imagined my mom.
At the end of the line, I dived. Plunging myself through the air and into the ground and pretty much smashed my face. I had nothing left to give and that pretty much was the last push of the day.
Laying down, looking at the sky, I know and I admitted, I lost. I finished forth.
Still laying down, I crossed my feet, tucked my palms under my head, just like a mat-salleh enjoying his last day of summer and closed my eyes. I wanted to burst in tears but some part of my anatomy told me not to. It wasn’t ego. It was empathy. Of wanting others to excel before you.
I knew it there and then, I wasn’t the only one giving my best. I’m sure the rest did.
As I dragged my feet across the hall to my dormitory, a few batch mates asked about the result. “Kenape tak bole menang bro?” they fired a difficult question. Still exhausted and moody, I replied,”sebab aku yang lari, bukan kau. Kalau kau lari mesti menang!“. Pun, very much intended.
* * *
A few months later, I learned the gold and silver medalist won state’s level. No surprise really, because that day, I clocked 11.03 secs. It was my personal best.
Quote: Reasoning won’t help you win.
To this day, whenever I lost something, be it business opportunity, turned down job offer or having girl troubles, I’d recall this painful memory. And you have to admit, some things are just meant to be.