Reflection – It is something I seem to do quite often these days. However, I do so about an aspect of my personality, skills, style, characteristics, etc.,I was reflecting on the time when I stopped being a formidable athlete and switched to being more of a ‘studious’ person ( as we famously called) – not necessarily a nerd or an introvert, I am not sure I could ever be one. Not that there is anything wrong with each – just that I stopped being a track & field athlete or a volley ball player or a cricketer. I think the year was 1981-82 . I had developed a zeal for Mathematics and Physics as subjects and problem solving as a skill or possibly a challenge to be first among equals during my first year of engineering. All that mattered to me was to do a morning jog or run for good health and fitness. A habit that has served me well to date.
I wanted to find out what actually conveyed to me that it was all over and I would not run competitively for medals or honors in the field of athletics. Taking a jog down the memory lane, I recall having seen a very inspirational movie called “Chariots of Fire”, felt great and yet was at peace with myself not running, or racing anymore. I had come to terms with the fact that it was not the running race I would pursue – among many other races I would run for the rest of my life and it was OK. With a timing of 11.2sec in 100m dash at my peak ( without professional training, track or gear), I was perfectly fine not pursuing what had been a passion for me for about 6 years. During most of which, the only person in my category who beat me was my twin. The 1-2 positions for us was a matter of pride and honor. We did not forsake it for a single year since probably our 7th grade or so. This was possibly the first of the realizations of giving up an attachment to glory and limelight in my life.
With these reflections was also an aspect about the movie. I felt a strong urge to recall the story and salient moments in this historic movie. I thought it might be a good idea to capture a synopsis in this blog.
1919. Harold Abrahams, son of a Lithuanian Jew, is subject to subtle prejudice at Caius College, Cambridge, where he is the star sprinter among the amateur runners, including friends Lord Andrew Lindsay, Aubrey Montague and Henry Stallard. In Scotland, Eric Liddell, son of missionary parents in China, is studying and helping his sister to run a local mission. He participates in the Highland Games and is encouraged to think seriously about running by friend Sandy McGrath, an idea opposed by his sister Jennie for fear he will neglect mission work.
Both Abrahams and Liddell rise to some prominence and finally meet on the race track. Liddell wins, and Abrahams takes the defeat so badly that his girlfriend, operetta star Sybil Gordon, worries that she is losing him to his obsession for running. A trainer, Sam Mussabini, who had earlier rejected Abrahams’ request for guidance, now offers to improve his time. In the face of strong opposition from his college head to this ‘ungentle-manly’ professionalism, he continues to train with Sam, while Liddell runs cross-country over the moors. Both are chosen to represent Britain in the 1924 Paris Olympics, along with Abrahams’ three friends from Caius.
On departing, Liddell discovers that the heats for his event, the 100 yards, are to be held on Sunday and he flatly refuses to run. Great pressure from the Prince of Wales and the Olympic Committee fails to change his mind, and a solution is only reached when Lord Lindsay offers to give up his place in the 400 yards to Liddell, although the “Flying Scotsman” is unused to that distance. In the event, both Abrahams and Liddell win gold medals.