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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Pain of Losing

The ongoing Summer Olympics at Athens, Greece has given us some wonderful sporting achievements - most of which, we shall remember forever. We are least likely to forget the unbelievable swim of Michael Phelps, or the incredible 100 m race, where 5 runners finished before 9.9 seconds or the domination of the Chinese divers. If you are Indian, you are most likely to remember Major Rathore for being the saving grace for India's performance (at least till now). But one incident that I shall forever remember is the tearful withdrawl of Paula Radcliffe from the Woman's marathon at the 22.5 mile mark.

Paula's failure to complete the course has actually left many (including herself) mystified. Of course, the doctor's reports are still awaited, but it seems unlikely that anything might have been wrong with her. Paula was the outright favorite to win the title - mainly because she is the current world record holder in Woman's marathon (2:15) and also she had been training really very very hard for this race. She had trained in the hot and humid weather of Spain to simulate the hot weather of Athens. She also had been doing a lot of altitude training - something that most African atheletes do a lot.

Taking that into consideration, one has to feel really sorry for Paula. After finishing a dismal 4th in the 10,000 m in Sydney 4 years ago, she was determined to win the gold in Athens in the marathon. It's no doubt that the marathon route was devilish. There was 15 miles of uphill in the middle of the race. Add to that, the weather was not kind either. The runners ran the race in really hot and humid conditions. Of course, the conditions were the same for all runners too.

It might have been nerves or it could have been something that she ate or ... - whatever be the reason, the race is over and she is not going to be in the podium. I am no fan of Paula - but I just feel sad that 4 years of preparation went down the drain. But then that's how sport is - there is a very thin line between success and failure. Games are great levellers - they make you a hero and a legend on one day and a nought on another.


At 8:43 PM, Blogger Pran Kurup said...

How about a good word for the Japanese runner who made the gold? NBC gave us a great story about Paula. How about some background on the Japanese runner? What was the secret of her success? Every athlete trains like their life depends on it, especially if its for the Olympics. So I don't think one athletes failure deserves more limelight than another success! Lets gets soome beef on the Japanese. I feel Paula's pain but I'd like to hear more about the Japanese athlete who took home gold!

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