Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Endurance Sports

For a while now I've been trying to recall why I hated sports so much when I was in school all those years ago. Each year when school reopened, I dreaded the times when all of us had to go through the selection process to represent our respective sport clubs. I think it had something to do with the fact that I just wasn't good enough for competitive sports, but I wasn't even keen to attend the selection process to start with. So I never really knew how I'd fare against the other kids in school.

I had more fun playing badminton, but I didn't get very far in the sport as I simply couldn't afford the expensive shuttle cocks. I'd like to think that if only I had the chance to train, I'd probably be at least a strong badminton player, though maybe not the best around.

After I left school, I have always been active in badminton for some years. Then I tried weight-lifting for a while. Then swimming and more recently long-distance running. I think endurance sports did not come to me naturally—I had to work very hard to build up my stamina. In fact, I'm still doing that right now!

Last Wednesday afternoon, JJ had to stay back in school after her lessons for the sports selection process. I wasn't there to watch her in action, but later that evening I found out from JJ what happened that afternoon.

Apparently the kids in her class were made to race around the field. The top performers were then selected to represent their respective clubs. I saw the field in question, and I'd reckoned that it's perhaps about 100 metres per lap, give and take. I'm not sure how many times they had to run around that field, but I'd imagine that they had at least a few races—maybe the first one to sift out the weakest; then the second one to select the top half performers; and perhaps the final one to select the best of the best etc.

When I arrived at her school to fetch her home after 5pm, JJ was exhausted. She climbed into the back seat and I could see the relief on her face in the mirror. It wasn't long before I extracted from her the story of the day.

She said she ran one full lap around the field and felt dead tired when she finally completed it. Bear in mind we're only talking about 100 metres here (it could be less than that!). And to add insult to injury, she came in last in her class too, having been overtaken during the last few seconds by a competitor!

I don't know why, but I found it rather amusing that JJ got last, though I was careful enough not to laugh out loud.

I looked at her in the mirror and saw her eyebrows coming together when she asked, "Why is it that I can't last very long when I run, dad? I felt so tired even before halfway. How come my friends could run so fast to the finish line?"

I wasn't sure if I should go into the long and technical explanation about endurance sports and confuse the kid even more. But in the end, I decided to keep the explanation simple, and said, "Well, Jay, that is quite normal—some people can run faster, and longer, but not others. Some people are good in their studies while others are not. Some people are fat while others are skinny. No one is good in everything, so don't worry about getting last in the race. Maybe you can come in first in another competition?"

And while JJ was nodding her head doubtfully, my mind started to wander to Ahmad Md Isa who has an amazing endurance in living. It made me wonder how much longer he can endure life, but apparently an 82-year-old woman thinks he is still worth it. I have always said, there is always someone for everyone! But what's even more interesting is that there is now a second woman who's keen to marry Ahmad, and she's only 70 years old!

Ahmad has been married 5 times before, so I'm sure he knows very well what marriage is all about. I hope he can live up to the responsibility—although I can't help thinking, can he stand up as a man? And I'm not even talking about the strength of his legs...

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