Preparing for an international competition requires sheer determination and a commitment to go all the way without any let up. Boit always did that; his efforts always impressed his coach only that the coach was a bit leery that a lot of training off the books might be costly when the final day came. His coach, Brian Fisher, was a no nonsense person, a professional with decades of experience in athletics, particularly sprints. He was a bit short compared to some of the greatest names in the sport, with squinty eyes, a treasure of experience in sports with regards to human anatomy and love for his work. Simply put, he was a workaholic.
Still, Boit used to carry out a lot of off-the-records practice and research on the internet, watching YouTube videos and reading from blogs by professional sports personalities, writers and physicians. He therefore took adequate care and only stretched to the allowable limits. Going into an international competition, Boit knew, this meant understanding the opponents and their track records and preparing adequately to tower over them.
Boit had a super body; well built at the lower part and a perfectly conditioned upper body fitting the professional definition of an athlete’s body, particularly a sprinter. Boit had power in his legs, so much so that they could propel him with the power of a rocket launcher. A combination of the strong legs, his lofty height and lesser muscles on the upper body often invited some funny nicknames for him, from the “leaper” to the “toad” and many others that simply diffused into the thin air. Indubitably, he had power to drive himself forward, he was born to do that, he had practiced to perfect it, he had the facility and equipment for his training and he had the will to go on, the will to fight on, the energy subtly reserved for the last stretch.
The last week of the training ahead of Breeze Competitions was a bit of a slow go as the coach had planned, so that there would be no serious overstretches that could result into injuries.
“I have no idea, I kind of feel claustrophobic in here,” Boit said wearily looking at the coach in the eye, “it more or less feels like I am caged.”
“Yes, that is normal. You have had a lot of pressure the previous days working hard and not getting enough time to relax. This week should be busy, yes, but not the same as it has been all along,” coach said with an empathetic countenance and tone.
“I know that my greatest challenger is Ushin Bone, and I believe that I am adequately prepared to trounce him when the time comes. He has his strengths but I will certainly put him in his place.”
“You should surely be confident because I believe with all the efforts that you have invested, you will definitely win all the way.”
Boit and Brian stepped out of the room to take a walk around the compound. Sports lovers littered the compound along with some internationally renowned sprinters, reporters and medics also dotting the masses. Most of the top level sprinters and marathoners were nowhere to be seen because they must have been in places training.
“I kind of felt nervous the whole day yesterday, I wasn’t able to comprehend what was happening. Throughout the training, I felt shy of this feat, more like it wasn’t the right time, just as if I am not yet ready to step up for this competition. But today, I feel more confident, I feel like I want to get to the tracks and show the world what sprinting is.”
“There is no need to be nervous; I have studied most of your competitors and I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Some of them might even fall at the preliminaries. What is not clear is the might of the underdogs.”
Both Boit and his coach leisurely walked the compound of their residence meeting several persons, some of whom were familiar while most of them were total strangers. Some would turn to stare at them as they continued with their walk. The whole time, Brian kept on impacting encouraging words on Boit urging him to be confident and to keep to the training calendar to avoid either taking on too much or too little.
When they retired back to their rooms, Boit was feeling much better; he had breathed fresh air and had met new and familiar faces. He had pleasurably acquainted himself with the environment. It was such a fabulous moment to break the ice and just get rid of the military feel.
The first day of the competition was a bit tensed. The coach was casual but everyone who was interacting with Boit became too official. He never liked that feeling; it made him nervous, it made him feel the presence of the thousands of sports lovers who had thronged the compound to watch the competitions. Every once in a while he would crack a joke just to feel more relaxed.
“Coach, you are making me feel like a child on a Christmas day.”
“Hey, Kid, why are you saying that?” the coach replied with a fake chuckle.
“You are giving me momentary enthusiasm and a remote curiosity at the same time, I feel like I am about to open a Christmas gift box.”
“Hello, sir, I am sorry, but you are not allowed that way,” a voice said professionally. “Only the management staffs are allowed there. You have a tag?” the voice continued.
Boit who was a step ahead of the coach stopped and looked around for the origin of the voice. He saw a young man striding slowly towards them holding a string leading a muzzled dog behind him. He was short, round eyed and wide. He looked all business and any peace loving person would talk with him from a distance.
“Okay, sir; sorry I didn’t read the sign,” Boit said easing backwards.
“No problem, sir, just a precaution,” the security guy responded in a coarse but friendly voice after realizing that Boit was humble.
They took a diversion and came to a track with a few athletes jogging. Since Boit and the coach having all their training attires on, they seized the moment to melt down the tension a bit. They started jogging as well, slowly and easily with a few restrained stretches, a few words here and there and limited jerking moves.
“Don’t strain yourself, keep it nice and easy.”
“You said sir, I am a good student.”
“All participants for the 200 meters sprint are called upon to avail themselves at the track as we are about to start,” a voice announced through the public address.
That meant that Boit’s time was beckoning; he would perform in about 30 minutes time. They cooled down slowly and came to walking movement and pompously headed to their official changing room.
The first 100 meters preliminary competition was fairly simple for Boit. He beat all the competitors leaving his closest rival a meter behind him. Brian was all over the place, he felt boisterous, he was very much excited, and he had seen success coming his way. The coach was upbeat. His best performance as a coach in the international competitions, like the Boston Marathons, the Olympics, and Breeze Competitions had given him number three at best.
Boit was not showing any signs of sweating, he was panting just a little and his face was glowing. He was exalted to a mighty position, winning before the over 30 thousand people was not commensurate to getting a math quiz right. He felt powered up for the next bout. His coach was more confident, they looked pressed for success, and they were gripped in hazy anxiety, like a person checking the last two digits of a lottery number, holding shortly before merriment.
“Great job, son,” Boit’s coach said tapping on Boit’s back.
“We did it, coach.”
“We have one more to go and you will be on top of the world. I can see success,” the coach said handing Boit a bottle of water, “take just a little.”
The next competition was due in 6 days and the organizers had made all the necessary facilities for training available. Boit was to continue with his mild training; o nce in a while he would be getting slightly more rigorous training. Anyway, the coach was available to provide guidance. Since this was a cold environment, the coach always advised taking on the weather with the competition clothing to prepare Boit for the final day. It was done in moderation, professionally coupled with a thorough examination of the impact after every training session.
“I know you are ready, kid,” the coach said after training on the eve of the main event.
“Yes, coach, I feel very much confident and I am certain of a win,” Boit said gleefully. “When we finally get back to Los Angeles, we will be thinking of future competitions, this one is a done deal.”
“Not yet, son, until you cross the finish line ahead of your opponents,” the coach made a quick rejoinder. “I know you have what it takes, but still, you must play by the rules to be able to triumph over your challengers, it is your moment and you must utilize it. All I can do now is to urge you to focus, be confident, but not overly confident to the extent of playing off the rules.”
Boit was jogging confidently, stretching, jumping with ultra control and making short quick sprints. It was the day, the final day of the competition. This was a make or break for Boit. The coach was aware that Boit was confident, that he was not worried at all; he was ready, he had invested time, money, energy and all, just to make it to this day. There was no compromise, no excuses, no diversions, it was a must win for him. Boit had a name to build, a reputation to uplift and, yes, a country to represent.
“Success, son,” the coach said letting Boit proceed to the starting line of the 100 meters track.
“Thanks, coach,” Boit said heartily, “the time has come.”
ON YOUR MARKS, SET READY, BLAWWWW. Make it or break it!
“There is always another time, son,” the coach said looking a bit concerned, “it was just a small mishap, but still, you did your best.”
Boit was heartbroken. He made a costly mistake. Boit was too confident when he went for the sprint. He relaxed at the starting line letting his competitors start just slightly ahead of him. In sprints, just a small delay costs you the title.
Boit was to compete another day!