Monday, 10 July 2017

young hearts run free

Those are my legs! 1980s neon swagger.
It's Sports Day season again. Across school fields everywhere, children are wearing their team colours with pride as they hop, skip and jump into sacks carrying eggs; teachers with clipboarded results forget about the marking piling up on their desk to fret about whether they can get through the staff relay without falling in the home straight; and primary school parents pretend to not care about the parents race and just happened to have their neon swooshed trainers in their handbag.

I was a sport lover in my younger days. And although it's more of the armchair variety these days, I still love sport and am a huge believer in the good it can do.

Sport got me through school corridor racism. I was good at it. The whispers and mean stares subsided when they saw me on the track and on the field. I got picked first for teams, I represented my school, my county and my country in athletics. And when I regale my daughters about my sporting prowess whilst rummaging around in the loft for my dusty medal collection, I regret giving up my talent every time.

Sport enabled me to appreciate the benefits of hard work, way before I realised that revision was a necessary evil; it showed me how to cope with the highs and lows that go hand in hand with sport and life; it widened my peer group so when things were difficult at school I had my team mates at training with a shared experience of frosty cross country mornings and nerves on the starting line; and it took me around the country and gave me a working knowledge of what was where (do you know I once got asked in class where in Wales was Scotland??).

But it's so very easy to look back and get all misty eyed about my teenage wins. I have to be honest and remember the evenings where I didn't want to go training and the day I feigned injury, missed out on an athletic event only for my coach Dad to return and find me dancing to the opening credits of the Pink Panther in the living room. 

Now I can look back and sympathise with the sorrow, frustration and probably the anger that he must have felt when I told him I was giving it all up, aged 17. With a promising athletic career ahead of me, I imagine he probably wanted to drop kick me out of a window. all those nights training with me through the four seasons and the years of trekking me up and down the motorways of Britain. And what for? No eldest daughter on an Olympic podium. No dedicated sportsperson of the year trophy to my coaching Dad.

Except...the love of sport remains strong. The sporadic forays onto treadmills get harder as the knees get creakier. I'll splash about whilst the offspring do a million graceful laps around the pool. I'll encourage my eldest around the Race For Life 5K only to witness her sprint finish leaving me for dust.  And if it wasn't for channelling my Mum's love of the exercise DVD, I would be a professional couch potato.

Now it's me ferrying children to pitches and pools at the weekend. Now it's me commenting on the natural athletic posture all three of them have. Now it's me celebrating hanging the medals and certificates that make it home. Every time my Dad hears me blah on about my kids' sporting achievements, it must seem like groundhog day, apart from the fact that he could never boast about winning the parent's race. That three separate Mum's race wins by the way. Yep still got it.

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