“You have to fall before you fly,” they said. I have always flown, but I’ve never really experienced the opposite. Today I encountered an incident that made me realise something. Something fundamental. Something that I may not have been aware of.
After being selected for the most prestigious athletic tournament after winning the state meet, here I was, ready to race. I kept shifting my weight from one foot to the other and tilted my head to gaze at the clock hung on the chipped white wall and half-past nine stared back at me. The races were going to commence soon.
Shortly, I heard the announcement, loud and clear, that it was time for the under-14 category to get on the track for the hundred metres hurdles sprint. I snapped out of my thoughts frantically and shifted my gaze from the clock, as it dawned upon me that I was a part of that group. This hit me like a frayed train
barreling towards me at 100km per hour. It was time for me to get on that racing track and give it my all.
A young 12-year-old girl had somehow gathered her courage to sprint at that event. That girl was me.
The whistle blew loud and clear, piercing my ears. I dashed with a speed like never before with my legs skyrocketing in the air, jumping over the obstacles. I was in the lead until I hurtled down onto the red track; my legs remained entangled, my left foot over my right. It felt like I was hurtling to an invisible floor; tumbling through the layers of the Earth.
My jaw dropped and I remained flabbergasted, unable to comprehend that I had fallen. Everything faded into a blur for at least a few seconds and my head started spinning like a ferris wheel. I still pushed the ground with my hands and stood up, despite the agonizing pain shooting up my left knee. I limped over one of the last hurdles, then the next and finally neared the red finish line. I crossed it. I wasn’t happy that I had fallen for sure, but I was proud of myself for not giving up, and more importantly for finishing the race.
I walked away from the podium and away from the crowd. I slowly made my way towards the exit. My knee was hurting. But, I knew I was strong and I knew I wasn’t giving up on my dreams.
I am a 16-year-old girl now and I am an athlete. I have had some highs and a few lows in my athletic journey, but I will never give up on my dreams. And when the whistle blows the next time, I will run faster than ever. Jump higher than ever. And leap stronger than I have ever before.