I just happened to flip over to TV one and discovered Brian Edwards in the middle of interviewing sporty girl Sonia Waddell about sport, competing and what drives her. She was talking about the annual cross country running race when she was at primary school, how she’d be up the night before in tears because she so desperately wanted to win and didn’t want to lose.
Now, as fate would have it, I went to the same school as Sonia. I was two years behind her and her younger brother was in my class. Things were completely different for me. The night before the cross country I’d be in tears because I knew that I’d probably end up losing.
It’s not that I was a terrible athlete, it’s just that my school was a small country school, there were only about 75 students, and it joined up with other small country schools for the cross country, so there wasn’t a huge pool of students. Statistically someone had to come last, and I knew it was going to be me.
Because of this I never felt like I was achieving anything doing it. One day at Brownies we were sitting around talking about how we did at the cross country. Everyone was saying what place they came in, so I said “I came last”. Everyone laughed at me, and I burst into tears and ran away. Yay!
Then one year something really cool happened. About a quarter of the way around the hilly rural course I got a pain in my foot. It started out fairly mild, but quickly grew to an almost intolerable sharp pain, like there was a blade in my shoe. I limped back to the finish line where the first aid people were. I sat down and rested my sore foot. Then the pain disappeared as quickly as it had come. It was almost as if my body had given me an excuse to save myself from the stupid race.
So Sonia went on to represent New Zealand in the Olympics, her brother looked down my top when I was eight, and sometimes I go jogging for fun.