- The Sprinter
- March 31st, 2009
Fame was at stake. Money was at stake. My one-year preparation was at stake. The long hours at building body power and mental toughness couldn’t go to waste. Everything boiled down to the 26 seconds on the lane.
The starter’s gun fired.
Eight silhouettes leapt from the starting blocks, released like a pack of wild dogs, stunning the huge crowd with their sudden burst of energy. A steady rhythm curving the lanes commenced.
Each of us glided along our respective tracks, aiming for the most energy efficient limbic movement needed to run a good bend. We were all focused on only one thing: breasting the tape—aiming for the first, not the second, nor the third. We all wanted to win the final heat. But I wanted to win this most.
Then under my panting breath, amid a misplaced impulse, I conveniently said, “If I don’t win this, it will happen”—an unjust trade-off in exchange for a sick psychological motivation. The profanity was a logical leap. Nonetheless, it was enough to give me that extra energy, that extra push that pulled my hamstrings and my glutes. Involving this unthinkable event as an irrational disincentive was necessary, and it took its toll on my muscle power. My legs were tired, but I kept on running without restraint. I just did not want it to happen.
With a few meters from the finishing line, I was neck and neck with my fastest competitor. I poured all my energy into my last strides. Alas I finished second, just a few milliseconds away from getting the fame and money, just a few inches from achieving my lifelong dream. And perhaps losing my brother.
After the ceremonies, I took a long drive to the hospital, another race against time. I hurried to my brother’s room while the lost race and rewards still smothered my thoughts.
But I was stirred from my stupor when I saw only Mama was there. She sat on the green upholstery, head bowed and shoulders sunk. Her seemingly lifeless eyes were red and tired from crying. I’d never seen her look so empty until now.
My forgotten utterance echoed. My face twitched with shame and guilt.