Friday 15 August 2014

Who says winner takes it all?

The winner dominates the headlines, receives all the accolades and of course the gold medal. What about the athlete who finishes last? Two laps down and a good five minutes after the winner touched the crossing line. She did not win any medals - but she would take the standing applause from the Zürich crowd which witnessed this tremendous attitude. I was also part of the crowd standing and applauding this athlete, the 24-year old Norwegian Runa Falch. 

Twenty-five athletes took to the track in what was going to be a see-saw battle for the top places. The leader positions swung like a pendulum before the field settled in for the final three laps. There.. at that precise moment in about 800 metres to go saw the real heros emerging out of the pack or leaving rest of the pack behind. It was close between the first and second placed coming on to the last lap and in the final turn to the finish line - the winner was from Great Britain, the bronze medallist from the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in the 5000 metres. The crowd hailed to the endurance of Jo Pavey as she managed to get hold of the Union Jack flag from the spectators area. The runners-up, the duo from France finished close to Pavey but came short to take the top spot. 

Ok, this is usual right. Every race ends up having a winner, a runner-up and a second runner-up who then become the focus and leave rest of the athletes behind until the time when they all gather to compete another day. The way I saw - that particular race was all about the two athletes. The winner and the final finisher. The race, the approach, the struggles, the accolades, the time and even the age were all strikingly contrast with these two athletes. 

A gap of close to six minutes and a gap of 17 years separated Jo Pavey and Runa Falch. Jo Pavey who turns 41 next month is also a mother of two children - a inspirational run saw her take the first place and thereby scripting one of the success stories of this year´s European championships and in athletics. While Pavey´s achievements were in a league of her own, very few could connect with what she achieved yesterday. An outstanding achievement and something I was very fortunate to witness it live. How many such instances do you see in today´s world of sports? It is a dream… which many aspire and a handful of them go on to live it. 
                        Jo Pavey proudly displaying her colours on and off the track           Image Courtesy - Telegraph UK                                         
What about Runa Falch? Just as the presenter was interviewing Pavey on her spectacular win, Falch had just began her 25th lap - the final lap. She trailed right from the start and yet she went on and on and on. It was no surprise to see the crowd standing up and applauding Runa Falch when she ran her final 100 m. To me that said it all.
Who says winner takes it all?
Runa Falch all by herself about to complete her race and being cheered by the crowd.             Image Courtesy - nrk.no

It was theatrical and if finishing 24th would have hurt her, the strong sound of the crowd would have soothed all the pain she endured in order to finish the race. This run from Falch to me was more close to the spectators present than Pavey´s. To me personally, these two athletes demonstrated a great example. There is no age limit to winning and if you do need to win and share the same experience as Pavey did, then one has to be prepared to run many such runs like Falch did. It was one of those days when you lose steam, lose sense of purpose or even direction. Luckily for Falch - she lost her momentum on the running track and there after all she did was to follow her instincts; absorbing the pain, agony, running all by herself and completed the race. In sports or in any field, there is no prize for finishing last. It all comes down to perspectives. And my view is that - ´she is now a finisher and not a quitter´. 
        Runa Falch after completing the race.             Image Courtesy - nrk.no

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