We have heard a lot of heroes till date. Some in the sports field and some as leaders in critical times.
Here we have a collegian Harry who has always looked up to the great athletes of the past Olympics.
Harry was of medium height. He had well toned upper arms and chest, short cropped hair and sturdy limbs, well equipped to do middle distance running. He trained regularly and dreamed of making it to the Olympics. He also read a lot specially about the renowned athletes of our times and even of the past.
He trained sincerely and tried to learn new techniques to do better.
Harry heard about Michael Johnson and then recently Usain Bolt. He dreamed of becoming like one of these athletes.
Now the college athletics were a few months away. He trained even more. Every morning he woke up , whether in rainy weather or not. He left early mornings with a few fellow athletes, to train at the University Grounds. Joe was a good friend but also a good competitor. Friendship never came in the way of their races.
They both trained for the 400 , 800 and 1500 metres . Their timings were quite closely matched. Harry was the stronger. Joe was lanky and tall, and had elegant strides. It was a contrast of styles.
Harry very determined and focused, whereas Joe was casual and aware of his natural talent.
Harry dreamed of whipping all the others in the his events. He quadrupuled his training efforts. He sacrificed all his time and energy only in this direction.
Joe once teased him: “ So, are you trying for a clean sweep of the 400, 800 and 1500? Oh yes, you have your heroes in mind: but it requires a lot more. Lets see how you do it ? Don’t forget , I am also in the running.”
Harry quite nonchalantly replied “ I will do my best”
“Oh! I really mean to win”, retorted Joe.
Ten days before the University Athletics, Harry caught the flu. He was down with high fever and had to take prescribed treatment from his doctor. Dr Bratt, believed in heavy dosage of medicines, with the prime purpose of reviving Harry back to health and the upcoming Athletics.
“Harry , ensure that you take these medicines thrice a day and rest enough. I think in 4 days you will be okay”, assured Dr. Bratt..
Joe trained in his own quiet way, without any pretensions of winning as Harry dreamed.
In 4 days Harry recovered from the flu . He had lost weight and was a little weak. However he resumed training and was ready for the final day.
The usual tests for dope were conducted and Harry and Joe were given the green signal.
The three events were held over two days , and both Harry and Joe reached the finals of all three events. Their timings in the heats were quite good, Joe’s a little better than Harry.
In the 400 metres finals, Harry was not fast enough and placed a distant third. Joe came in 1st, smashing the meet record by 0.4 seconds.
In the 800 metres, Joe again ran a tactical race and came in first, with Harry in second place.
It seemed that Harry’s dream of 3 in a row was going to be a complete washout, without a single win.
He got ready for the 1500 metres. This was his favorite event. The race started at a good pace. Harry ran to keep up with the pack. At the end of the first lap , he was in third place. By the second lap he moved to second place and maintained this until the end of the third lap. Before the third lap ended and the last lap began, he burst into his best speed, overtaking Joe and the rest . However 20 metres away from the finish, Harry tripped over and sprawled onto the track.
Joe overtook him but then stopped to look back. He was overwhelmed with pity for Harry. But before Joe could do anything to help, Harry stood up and ran like a gazelle to finish in first place. Joe failed to catch up, to finish second.
Joe and Harry hugged each other, and could not believe at this sudden turn of events.
Harry tried to emulate the great Johnson and Bolt , but then struck his own mark by winning the 1500 metres in this fashion.
And Joe….. he was as casual as ever. Notwithstanding his loss in the 1500 in such a dramatic way. He was happy to win the two other events i.e. 400 and 800 metres.
Can I pretend to be someone who I am not? Is it okay to strive to emulate my heroes ?
Think about it…..we are all gifted in different ways; each given in different measure, which highlights the motto “ strive to give off your best”. I think Joe and Harry both did that, each a hero in some way.