This sports day will remain one of the most cherished episodes of my life. Those entire two days seem like a dream. Like an unforgettable book you read which impacts you so much you remember it all your life. Like one of the prized firsts: The moments of the first profession you made to a girl, the few hours of your first date, the few hours of your first successful job interview… the memories are that precious.
Genius entertains, mesmerizes and enthralls. But it’s the underdog which captures the imagination. There’s a special kind of euphoria associated with seeing someone down coming up with a stupendous performance which beats them all. Although books are written about geniuses, bookmarks are placed at the events where someone comes out of the blue and stumps everyone. Bookmarks in the book of your memory are also placed at the events which involve yourself. However ordinary those events and achievements may be, they’re yours and will be remembered by you, if none else.
Here’s a list of my most memorable events from the Sports’ day ’07. I haven’t mentioned any specific event of Nishanth or Chakrapani, as every single one of their efforts was special and will always be remembered. They make up the entire ‘book’ of memories. Here are the ‘bookmarks’.
5. Men’s 1500m: There were a thousand butterflies creating a deadly havoc in my stomach as I entered this race. This was the first event of the Sports day. We were 280 points behind Prithvi, and needed to cover up fast. I personally had anticipated that my doing well was essential for Agni winning (which turned out to be false, after all. Agni would still have won even without me!) and was a bit under pressure to perform here. The biggest worry were the muscle pulls in both my calves, due to which I had hardly had any practice in the past two weeks, and thus was short on both stamina and endurance. The pain from the pulls was still there despite endless massages and pain-relief sprays. Add to all this the fact that a medal from this most favorite event of mine had been eluding me for the past two years, the presence of the highest no. of athletes I’d ever seen for a 1500 race, and the gun not going off after two ‘on your marks’s, and you have an idea about the state my stomach was in as the race started.
5 minutes and 30 seconds later, I kissed the ground, tearful, as I finished some 11 seconds behind Chakri to clinch the silver. The first 4 rounds had been excruciatingly painful, and I had seriously contemplated quitting the race in the middle. But I had persevered, and in the end the ghosts of the past two years got buried. Most importantly, Agni covered 80 points from the race. The gap got reduced to 200 straight from 280 and now there was no doubt at all whatsoever as to who was going to lift the Overall Trophy. This race set the tone for a complete Agni rout of the track events.
4. Men’s 4×400 relay: The most painful memory from last year was not losing the overall trophy, but losing the 4×400 relay. ‘How could we have lost that race? We’re a house of runners. Losing a relay is like losing our identity, the unthinkable.’ These and similar thoughts had kept me awake on many a night this past year.
I decided to take the lead in this edition. Usually the captains/senior most athletes take the lead in relays for Agni. This was the test of captaincy material. And after my two laps, after I had handed over the baton to Jeetinder, I fell to the ground and looked at the track, completely spent. The Vayu athlete was still some 60m behind the finish line. I had given Jeetinder some 65-70 m lead. The race was well and truly over; the remainder of it but a formality. I lay back and gazed at the sky. The biggest wish for this sports day had just been fulfilled. I had performed my most wanton duty.
3. Men’s Shot Put: This was where another captain’s spirit shone. Last year’s record was 8.18m. Satya threw a huge 8.79 in his second attempt. Prudhvi, in his third attempt, let out a war-cry and threw the mother of all Shot Put throws that I’ve ever seen. A humongous 9.1m! My heart drooped, for I thought that Satya had missed his gold, but at the same time, there was a flood of appreciation, for this was probably the longest Shot Put IIIT had ever seen.
2. Men’s Triple Jump: There was no doubt at all whatsoever in anybody’s mind as to who will clinch the gold in this event. Nishanth was the favorite and he justified everyone’s belief by jumping a record breaking 11.20 m, with the two Rahuls coming in after him. This was when only 5 more athletes were left to finish their third attempt. The event was thought to be over.
This was till Suman’s last chance had not come. He had fouled in his first two attempts, but I’ve learnt to not give up hope wherever Suman is involved.
Suman ran in, and I drew a sigh of relief as he took a perfect hop from the start board. But wait, for the show had just begun! The longish hop was followed by a MASSIVE step, which landed our hero almost at the beginning of the sand pit! A huge leap then sealed the fate. Suman had jumped 11.32m! This was the mother of all Triple Jumps I’d seen in IIIT.
We’d routed the opposition in yet another event. Nishanth had begun his one-year-long wait to stake a claim at the Triple Jump gold.
1. Women’s 100m: Frankly speaking, I hadn’t expected Sunanda to win a gold in any event other than the 400m. And that’s exactly what makes the 100m race special.
After her coming 2nd in 400 and doing stupendously in girls’ 4×100, I persuaded Sunanda to run 100m. Still, I was betting on Priyanshu to retain her gold, and was hoping against hope that Sunanda beats either Prashasti or Manasi and comes third. The race started, and Sunanda was last at around 50m in the 6th lane, with Manasi leading the pack from the 5th. Priyanshu was doing her best to catch up, from the 2nd lane.
This was when magic happened. With nobody’s attention to her, Sunanda broke into a deadly run. Overtaking one athlete after another, she broke even with Manasi at around 85m. Manasi, who’d been looking over her left shoulder for Priyanshu, was visibly shocked as Sunanda shot ahead for a clear win. Priyanshu too, overtook Manasi in a photo finish to clinch the silver.
Sunanda didn’t stop screaming for around 10 minutes after that. And the hug that we shared after that was the longest and the tightest we have ever. This, and much more makes it the best and most memorable event of this sports day.
PS1: I dedicate my 1500 silver to Aditya. While I was doing my rounds, writhing in pain, he would just look at me in the eyes, and mutter something like ‘Go on, just 4 more left’. The amount of confidence he had in me gave me a lot of strength during the race. Among the most encouraging seniors I’ve ever had, Aditya played a major role in me finishing that race.
PS2: Now that the Sports Day is behind us, I’d suggest you to take a look at this .This was my list of the Top 10 athletes in IIIT. Also go through the comments. I think you’ll get to draw some interesting parrallels, now that the Sports Day is over.
PS3: These are my most memorable events. Would be delighted if someone else comes up here with their own.
PS4: Why am I writing this??? Haven’t played for a month now what with the injury I carried into the sports day having completely screwed both my feet after 2 days of incessant running and running around. Am getting frustoo just sitting around. Maybe I’ll play soon. Amen.