Friday, September 19, 2014

A 100-metre sprint I won

Returning to sleep mode seemed an uphill task, as it sometimes happens, especially towards dawn.  So instead of counting sheep I decided on a morning walk and some fresh air.  I jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth and attired myself for the purpose.  I had reached the The University Athletic Ground where I go since several years. This is just a 5-minute scooter ride.  It was quarter to five in the morning when I landed with my right foot on the bitumen track, parking my scooter outside. First skylight was still about an hour away.  I was the first walker there that day and am regularly irregular.  My schedule is for a 30-40 minute routine that includes short sprints, brisk walks and casual trots. I race against other walkers but they do not know.  So it is one-sided, but never mind, it is good for my own 'competitive spirit'!  I do not adapt this in traffic.

[Click on pictures to enlarge]

I must very briefly touch upon some facts about this vast area which has a long history.  See the Athletic track above.  The entire area in the frame [satellite image grab] was earlier known as Gordon Park, named after Sir James Gordon who was 'Guardian', 'Commissioner' and 'Resident' between 1871 and 1882 and also tutored the then Mysore King Chamarajendra Wadiyar X.  Sir Gordon's statue still stands in front of the magnificent District Offices building [partly seen in picture below] which is more than a century old. 

This ground was popularly called as 'The Ovals' [may be for its shape] and is surrounded by District Offices, a younger Crawford Hall and another century old beauty, the Oriental Library/Research Institute].  'The Ovals' was a regular venue for many cricket matches, till about early 80s.

Crawford Hall [my recent picture]

Oriental Library [vintage picture]

District Offices [vintage picture] 

Many may not know that this is where an extremely rare cricket world record happened in 1934 and stands unbroken even today. Read about this very interesting feat [Click here] - of Y.S.Ramaswamy capturing "All Twenty" wickets - in my other blog where M.N.Parthasarathy who witnessed it describes.

The Ovals is also where probably my great grandfather had walked a hundred years ago and surely my grandfather and father in later decades. My sportsman-advocate grandfather had played cricket here in the 30s and 40s and I too had the chance to play a match in 1980 before it was converted exclusively for athletics in the mid 80s.

Old picture of The Ovals - my grandfather is the one with bat in hand at the far end.
Oriental Library and part of Yuvaraja's College is seen. Bottom picture, from same angle, by me.

The bitumen track and Dist. Offices are seen in the picture below, which I took one morning 4 years ago.

Now let me hop back to the bitumen track.

September rains had made the morning air cool and pleasant smelling and a lone lapwing was calling from the centre of the ground. This bird is more regular than me.  I can say this because almost on all early mornings whenever I went early I used to hear its call.  The athletic track was partly, slightly lit by a street light from across the road in front of Crawford hall.  The white-powder sprinkled lines that divided the lanes were clearly visible in spite of darkness.  I walk the track anti-clockwise, usually in Lane 7 or 8 [outer] just the direction track events are held world over, while some others prefer to walk the opposite.  I was briskly walking my fourth or fifth round.  My body had started to warm up.  Sweat was moistening my chest, covered by a pullover and jacket.  I turned the track's curve and then suddenly I went towards Lane 4 due to an impulse. I was almost there at the starting line of the 100-metre dash.  

Just recently, I had read in the paper about sprinter and world record holder Usain Bolt's visit to Bangalore [for a promotional] where he challenged professional cricketer Yuvraj Singh to run the 100m in 14 seconds.

Now the track was in front of me and I had just received a Bolt-jolt of motivation. 

Ready, get set, blaaassst!!!  My feet took off .  I bolted away the 'Bolt way' and breasted the imaginary tape.  There was none ahead of me.  I dared to look behind.  The entire track fell behind me.  I had won the race, in flat 14, may be 15.  It is 'may be' because I could not see my second hand of my watch in that darkness!  I was at least two seconds faster 25 years ago and now I was just five seconds slower than Bolt.  For sprinters, a second is divided into a hundred parts which is long time, which P.T.Usha realized when she lost the Bronze by 1/100th of a second in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics!  So my timing was reasonably good for a 'veteran'!

My winning that race was witnessed by three drowsy dogs, resting on the tracks [they can see in the dark] and feeling lucky.  As if in great appreciation they looked in my direction as I went past them in my victory lap.  They actually wait for a  man who comes daily after dawn with a pack of biscuits - and they appear friendly.  Savouring the glory, my 10-minute free-hand exercise session became that much more pleasing and the dogs made my day!

Before leaving, I celebrated with two more 'victory laps' [walking].  Now there was some skylight and two dozen people - who missed the race.

I won that, but in 1987 when I represented my employer in the Athletic Meet at Karaikudi I came fourth in the 100m heats and the eventual gold winner was in my round.  I had also run the 4x100 relay which our team lost. I had suffered a small torn muscle in my thigh but still managed a leap of 17 feet, to end fourth in the long jump, all without proper preparation.

My first ever prize for running was at Rotary Club's fun event as a little fellow.  I was gifted with this [spring-wound] toy tortoise!
A tortoise for sprinting!


Susan Hirneise Moore said...

I am smiling big time as I sit here. What a wonderful post, Dinu. Now I'm actually laughing! Hey, we take our wins where and when we can find them, right? At least this is a race that no one . . . . lost! No one behind you on that dark track to lament your win! The Perfect Race!!!!
We, too, have a track near our home - though not as grand as yours, I admit. I go there sometimes to walk that track and think my own thoughts. Oh, I can relate to this wonderful post, friend! Bravo! Thanks for the smiles!!

Nancy said...

Those two dozen people who missed your race will never know your victory, but I do. I wasn't there, but I saw it through your words. Nicely done, my friend!

THALI NAGARAJA Ramesh said...

Good Going, you are alsways young at heart also in the field of sports.

jothi's jottings said...

I too have had the pleasure of playing and watching high class cricket in that very ground, Dinu! In the 70's we Mysoreans who were interested in cricket would congregate at this ground, or the Maharaja's, or the J K Grounds to watch such internaitonal cricketers as your own relative B S Chandrashekar, Errapalli Prasanna, Gundappa Viswanath, Brijesh Patel, V S Vijaykumar, Raghunath (?) etc. We had the privilege of watching them play at close quarters. They had no ego and were very respectful to the merits of the local players like Vijayprakash, Ballal, Seishwar, Pabhakar, Venkatasubbiah etc. There was no Tv those days. And so there used to be invariably a big crowd in those grounds whenever there were 'A' division league matches. Ah! Those were indeed exciting days.

Then it was turned into an athletic ground. I remember Shiny Abraham taking part in the Dasara meet.

That was a nice blog, Dinu! Keep writing!