Like many people, I find myself glued to the Paralympics just like the Olympics a few weeks ago. There is something mesmerising about true athletes competing at such a level. I feel proud of Team GB and even when there is a race with no Team GB competitors, I still like to watch in case an athlete sets a new World Record. Unfortunately, I was never blessed in the sports department. I’m sure I could have improved if I’d persisted and practised, but I simply didn’t enjoy taking part in sport.
I don’t think my school years helped. For bizarre reasons known only to the PE teachers, we made sure that all the outdoor activities happened when it was absolutely freezing, raining cats and dogs or both. It also didn’t help that I was required to remove my glasses when taking part in sports. You would be amazed how much of a disincentive that is when trying to catch a rock hard cricket ball that you can barely see.
I always used to enter the 100m during sports day, not because I was any good at it, but more because it was the shortest race possible. In the pool, I just about managed to struggle to 25 yards for my red ribbon, but I was lucky it wasn’t 30 yards – I think I’d have drowned. Some might argue that snooker is not a sport and I suppose it’s not in the physical sense, but it’s the only thing I ever won a trophy at so it counts as a sport in my book.
A charismatic man I used to work with called Dick Wittington (I kid you not) once cornered me and told me that he had taken on two teams to manage in the local snooker league. He went on to tell me that it was all a bit of a strain and that he was struggling to find the time. By the end of the conversation, somehow he’d persuaded me take on and run the worst of the two teams. It must have been a jedi mind trick.
I set about organising the team. My bequest from Mr Wittington consisted of a rag-tag collection of unskilled, unreliable snooker players, but somehow we managed to get a team together most weeks. The first few weeks, we were soundly beaten. After a while though, the most amazing thing happened. We started to improve. We started winning every so often. Then we won every other game. Soon we won more often than we lost. As the league continued, we climbed inexorably up the table.
In the final game of the season, we beat the league leaders and won the league. The snooker club awarded us medals. Because my squad was so unreliable, we had 10 players and there were only 6 medals. Put on the spot, I distributed the medals to the guys that turned up for that crucial last game.
In the office the following day, I displayed my medal proudly on my desk. Just then a fiercely competitive colleague came over for a chat. He was the kind of guy who had two big trophy cabinets and trophies to spare. He had been a member of our squad but he’d been unable to make the last match (and hence had no medal). “Where’s my medal?” he demanded. I mumbled something about there not being enough to go around. He instantly rattled off a bunch of statistics that showed that he was the best member of the team.
I sighed, and handed over the only thing I’d ever won. But for one short moment at least, I was a winner.
- Trophy … What Trophy? (cedarlounge.wordpress.com)
- Olympians, Why Are You Crying? (notolivias.wordpress.com)
- When We Were Young #2 (consciencenonsense.wordpress.com)
- Paralympics for the win! (fluffrick.wordpress.com)
- Why I Love the Paralympics (pixiemumbles.wordpress.com)
- London 2012: Leaving a lasting sporting legacy (jessiebaldwin.wordpress.com)
- Olympics vs Paralympics (lucybarclay.wordpress.com)