I used to watch Olympics with avid interest. I even watched all the Badminton, hockey, football and basketball matches, because our house was near the stadium. The public in my city is no mute spectator. I remember, sometimes the organizers tend to have one special prize for “best hooter.” If a team had earned a penalty kick, someone from the public would contribute “Acch choo…” The guy who used to do this had a fine sense of timing. He did this when one was about to attempt a kick or a throw!
I cherished watching games and matches, even all the four grand slams of tennis, on T.V. The first reason was, only sheer hard work, grit, determination and stamina of any player is rewarded, irrespective of his/her caste, creed, fairness, darkness, being convented ( I read this word for the first time in matrimonial columns) or non convented. Unlike the corporate world, on a playground you can not “project” yourself as a good player, or build a right kind of image.
But how could things seem so bright and positive? There must be something sinister lurking somewhere in a dark closet. I was not supposed to live in such a make believe world for long. I had to grow up. I remember the race of the century Ben Johnson Vs Carl Lewis in the Seoul Olympics. Even Steffi Graf was trying to find a good place in the stands to witness this clash. My heart was racing fast. Secretly I was wishing Carl Lewis to win. But no. Ben Johnson was way ahead of him. He had even broken the world record. He finished the race and started raising his fist in the air. Lewis was chasing him, after finishing the race. That seemed a bit odd to me. But it was nothing; he ran after him, just to congratulate him and then turned back, probably for his loosening up exercises. But the real race unfolded a few days later. Ben Johnson had failed his doping test. He was caught cheating. Johnson tried to brush this off by saying, someone had spiked his drink. But they keep a second sample of the urine to recheck. He failed this test again. Now Johnson’s medal had to be taken back. The Committee had scraped his world record too. The same medal was handed back to Carl Lewis in a crowded hall, but the ceremony was simple. Carl ultimately won the coveted race of the century, but it made all of us sad and suspicious.
I used to keep track of Greg Luganis. He was competing in diving and about to win the gold in diving. But before finals, in one of the attempts, his head hit the diving board. He bled. But still won the gold. My heart and mind paid a silent tribute to human guts and determination. More growing up was needed on my part. My myth had shattered after a decade I think. Later on Mr. Luganis revealed that he was suffering from AIDS at that time when his head hit the dashing board. THE BLOOD flowed from his head to the swimming pool. But all his coach and he cared about is an Olympic Gold medal.
U.S.A. and former U.S.S.R. vied for the first place in Olympics. I don’t remember who was first in the medal tally, but a player of a rival country commented, “Oh! This time their biochemists are better than ours!”
Something snapped permanently in my heart. I find it very difficult to tolerate manipulators and self centered a****. Now I don’t know who holds the current world record in sprints, hurdles, middle distance or long distance. Earlier I could have told the timings too. Now instead of watching Olympics, I prefer to curl up in the bed with a good book.