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November 03, 2017

Sports; makes you die and die for – Ethiopian Journey – Blog post -23

Most of us don’t understand things as they are. We get to see them as depicted by the popular media or by rabble rousers or opinion makers like Arnab (Arnab Goswami is a news Anchor for a Television channel in India). Arnab has made news very watchable but it is more like a rough and tumble, wild west boxing match. Everything is okay as long as many punches are thrown and there is blood and gore.
We are an armchair-sitting generation, that takes most things for granted. Especially more so when it comes to sports. We are critical to the point that we are smug and very self-opinionated. Everything is taken for granted. Allow me to enlighten.
Javier Sotomayor, clearing 2.45 metres, a world record
The world record for high jump for men is 2.45 metres or 8 feet and ¼ inch. You read it right! I can imagine some readers gasping in disbelief! YES 8 feet. You need to take a fast run to the pit, bend backwards and arch your back and sail over the bar. Pressure is building and an inch here and there could be a gold, silver or a bronze medal. Or being called an also run or a failure.  What is heart stopping is that many athletes are between 6 feet to 6.5 feet tall and are expected to jump much more than their height and that too without any support.
That is why I would suggest to my readers to watch the sports live in a stadium. Nothing more exciting than seeing a world class athlete soaring over a high jump bar just like a bird. Or gape like mad as you watch an athlete literally fly as they clear 6 metres to achieve glory in pole vault. 
Sergi Bubka, the legendary pole vaulter from USSR had a mind boggling 28 world records (17 outdoor and 11 indoor) to his credit. 
Bubka set his final world record of 6.15 (20.17 feet) in February 1993 in Donetsk which stood for almost 21 years. He had once said “Every new world record attempt is a nerve shattering experience. It is a height that no one has ever cleared. So unless it is cleared the butterflies in my stomach would never settle down”.
Coming to Ethiopia, we all seem to think that running comes naturally to them. Yes, running is fun and only, if it is for a kilometre or two. But we are talking about pounding kilometres monotonously for days, months or even years. The world record for a marathon is 2 hours 6 minutes to cover 42 Kilometres and 195 metres. Covering 42 kilometres in two hours!  That is covering one kilometre in 3 minutes. At that speed the athletes are literally flying. Their feet are off the ground, bodies are heaving, eyebrows furrowed in concentration, and their entire being drenched in sweat.  They are in a zone of their own. It is fascinating to see people run. For the present generation, even walking to the lift or changing channels of a TV is a chore or a boring exercise!  I urge you all, to atleast try running a kilometre at your own pace to understand our athletes before being critical about them.
The marathon is a killer sport. It entails running 42.195 kilometres at one go and without stopping. A fascinating sport. The only sport that can’t be practised in its totality. One can’t run a marathon every day! Most athletes run the marathon only on the marathon day! Every marathon is a life changing event. It is said that first 10 Kms are fun, second 10 Kms are by practice, penultimate 10 Kms are out of endurance and last 10 Kms are full of pain where every muscle, bone and blood cell is crying out of pain and frustration. There are thousands of reasons to stop and only one reason to continue. The reason is self-belief, to prove a point to yourself and finally the pride of running for the country.  The last 2 Kms are pure torture, the lungs are sobbing, breath is forced, the legs are wobbly and the blood starts accumulating in the eyes. 

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