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November 03, 2017

Marathon Running – Drama within Drama – Close finishes, Heroes and Villains – Ethiopian Journey - Blog Post – 24

Anderson - Schiess, the never say die swiss marathon Runner 
In the 1984 Olympics, the 39-year-old Anderson-Schiess, the Swiss marathon runner enters the stadium. Unfortunately for her, she missed the fifth and the last water serving station and had become dehydrated.  She is 400 metres from the finish line. She is totally done. She moves, hobbles, her torso horribly twisted, Her left arm limp, her right leg which had lost of its mobility. The volunteers are helpless. If they help, she would be disqualified. 
In front of thousands of spectators who are awed and shocked to their core, the spectacle unfolds. She takes many minutes and the race is forgotten. All the spectators are involved.  As she struggles, her struggle becomes their own. They cheer her on vociferously, the whole way. After many agonizing minutes she still gamely continues and holds her head in her hands. She is in agony but does not give up. She is still at it. It is mind over matter. Her entrance to the Olympic stadium and the struggle to cross the last 400 metres takes her five minutes and 45 seconds. 
Finally, she crosses the line accompanied with deafening roar. The winner too did not get that type of reception! She faints and is taken to a hospital and luckily recovers. There are many runners who have died running or trying to run the marathon. 
Time is such a big issue in sports that it can be a barrier in itself. The 100 (hundred) metres dash is over in ten seconds flat. That is as much time as we take in reading a string of 50 words!  Ask P. T. Usha. She came 4th in the 400 metres dash in 1984 Olympics. She clocked a heart breaking 55.55 seconds and the bronze medal was won in 55.54 seconds. P. T. Usha was slower by 1/100th of a second.
Motivating Video, Never give up 
That night it was very difficult for me to sleep. India never won a medal in Track and field. A medal in the track and field was ours for the taking and we missed it by a proverbial whisker! I am sure P.T. Usha does not spend a day without thinking “what if, what if, what if I had just lunged at the finish line” ‘what if, what if’ will linger on for a life time. Too much of a mile-stone to be carried on the slim shoulders of P.T. Usha. Hats off Usha, we are always indebted to you for the lovely memories.
Most inspiring Marathon runner ever 
India beat Pakistan in the inaugural T20 International Cricket World Cup in 2007. In a heart stopping last over, Joginder Singh bowls Misba-Ul-Haque a fairly decent delivery. Misba had a brain freeze and had a real swing at the ball. It is all in the mind. Misba was overcome by the situation. He wanted to be done with it. Sreesanth circles down the ball and takes a well-judged catch and that was that! India wins the world cup.
Spare a thought for all four players in this real life drama.  Misbah-Ul-Haq the batsman, becomes the villain number one in Pakistan. It is easily forgotten that he brought his country so close to winning. He brought them very close – just a stroke away from winning the world cup. Yet so near and yet so far.
On the other side the Indian captain, Ice cold Dhoni who had the guts to bowl Joginder Singh in the last over.  It could have gone horribly wrong and Dhoni would have been left holding both the baby and the bath water! He would have carried the blame for a life time. Just like Chetan Sharma, who even today is blamed for bowling that full toss to Javed Miandad, who swung it to six and win the Australasia cup for Pakistan in 1986.

And what went on in the minds of Sreesanth and Joginder is worth a million dollars! As Sreesanth waited with baited breath, did he get the thought of failing? I don’t know. I think the adrenaline rush takes over and the sports people live in the present! Very easily it could have been the other way round! Pakistan winners and India being the runners up.   So let us be sympathetic to sports persons and understand their problems and try to look at sports with the needed compassion. Let us remember that the players whom we are watching are playing as we can’t or can’t play better than them! 

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