Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Formerly broad, not long

The 2015 Athletics World Championship in Beijing has just ended two days ago. For the week that the sports event was in progress, I was mostly in front of the television, engrossed in watching the live transmission from China.

I am hardly a sportsman myself. The only games that I seriously play are football and badminton. However, I did have a minor involvement in athletics while in school. I ran the 400 metres. For this, the tiny achievement I managed to accomplish was a 3rd-place finish in the boys 400m relay. Among the 4 boys in our team, which really was the weakest team in the competition, I had the fastest individual time. Our coach, following the conventional thinking of the time, placed me to run the anchor leg. As we were getting ready at the start line, my teammate who was our 2nd fastest runner (and slated to run the 3rd leg), told me his plan on how we could possibly win something out of the race.

He said that he intends to run flat out fast from the moment he gets the baton and hope that his stamina will hold until he cross the finish line. He suggested that we switch positions, the idea being that I could hopefully catch up on some lost ground while running the 3rd leg. Leaving it to the last leg would be too late, he said. At the spur of the moment, I agreed. We switched places just as the starter was about to call for the 1st leg runners to take their mark. (Of course, technically this is against the rules, but what the heck... this was just a school sports meet held some thirty years ago.)

The race started and as expected, our first two runners could not match the other teams. By the time I received the baton, we were in 4th (last) position. I had some distance to catch up to the 3rd-placed guy. This I did while nearing the bend at the 300m mark and finally managed to overtake him as we entered the home straight. When I passed the baton to our last runner, he sped off as if he was sprinting the short distances. As I watch him run, I was worried he would lose his steam and be overtaken. But true to his word, he held on just enough to maintain the 3rd-placing and secure the team a bronze medal which we never expected to be within our grasp.

No doubt, we did not win the gold but it was a race I remember to this day because of a friend's very quick thinking on strategy. Which is why I love to watch track and field events on TV, especially the relays. The final event at Beijing on Sunday was fittingly enough, the Men's 400m relay. It was an enthralling race won by the American team despite some thrilling running by the Jamaicans.

Ok then... let's end this post with some track & field trivia.

Did you know that the long jump event in athletics was originally called the broad jump? In 1967 it was renamed to long jump because the term `broad' was considered as derogatory to women. Ooops...

The long jetty at Teluk Sengat in Kota Tinggi. Pic not relevant at all to story :-)


3yearshousewife said...

I was in athletics too once upon a time. 100 meter dash, 200m & 400m relay Now, can't even run 50m without gasping for breath. Love watching those athletics events but I totally missed the one you mentioned.

Oldstock said...

Salam As,

Wow, you are a sprinter! Of course, nowadays you and I can run only in our dreams, hehehe..

The 400m men's relay race was exciting. On the last leg, the US team was leading but the final Jamaican runner sprinted from the baton change and overtook the American at the back straight. I thought the American would up his pace to chase but he kept his cool. The Jamaican could not keep up his speed and was then overtaken by the American at the final straight a few metres from the finish line. Thrilling running by all.