Saturday, March 04, 2017

Sporting life

I was listening to Katherine Grainger on Desert Island Discs this week. She probably weighs her Olympic and World medals rather than counts them. Not many of us will ever reach those sorts of heights in sport.
However, we all have our own little golden moments. Today, my son had his first when he entered a cyclocross event organised through his school. Cyclocross is a bit like cross country on bikes. I wasn't even aware it was a thing until last summer when I was doing my homework on road bikes and nearly ended up buying one because it looked so lovely, not realising it was configured for a particular kind of cycling.
Mud, sweat and gears
For the uninitiated, like me, the bikes have off road tyres for better grip, wider forks to accommodate these tyres, more clearance for the pedals, and often disc brakes for better braking.
Anyway, the school wanted to put in a team and I volunteered the lad, who has been on a couple of training session over the past couple of weekends. It was just enough to give him an idea of what it would be like racing over rough terrain and to be a bit more prepared.
Today we headed to Haverhill where the event was held at a local school. The venue led me to believe it would be a few laps round a fairly flat field, but it was quite a bit more challenging than that - rather hilly, windy and muddy. A lot more muddy than we'd practised in.
Jamie had a couple of familiarisation laps, which got him blowing hard, especially as he was pedalling a heavy old mountain bike compared to the sleek cyclocross beasts that a lot of the kids had - complete with cleats (gulp).
His year group was first off. It was only 10 minutes, but it was high impact stuff and the kids were really going for it. I thought he'd manage a couple of laps in that time - the course was probably about a kilometre I guess, but a sneaky little km it was - but he managed three, which was a great effort. All of the kids did really well, and looked thoroughly puffed at the end, and pretty filthy.
I was really proud of him because he gave it a good go and never gave up. That's all you can ask really. Of course, I was quite chuffed that he did reasonably well too - not as well as the more experienced kids on better bikes, but probably better than he thought he would do. It was definitely outside of his comfort zone, and according to his mum he was a bit nervous about it beforehand.
I think I'd freaked him out by trying to give him tactical advice over the past few days - like I know anything! He can be a bit of a worrier when it comes to new experiences, and I obviously hadn't helped. This morning I told him that it was no big deal, not to worry and to just enjoy it.
Retire the 12!
He did enjoy it. I think he really enjoyed it, and that was enough for me, to be honest.
We hung around to watch the other races and see who had won, not really expecting anything. His age group was up first, and the announcer went through the medals in reverse order. They didn't get bronze, which I thought might have been as well as they'd do, and obviously didn't get silver. Hey ho.
They only bloody won it! GOLD!
I didn't see that coming. Cue lots of applause, cheesy grins, hugging and celebratory pictures.
Afterwards he said: "That's the first time I've won anything."
That's not strictly true. He's won competitions, school sports races, and has earned badges at Beavers and Cubs. That's not a brag. At this age, there are lots of things that kids can enter and lots of opportunities to earn and win things.
"But this is the first time I've won a medal," he said.
I don't know why that should have surprise me. I've never been especially competitive myself, but remember clearly a couple of times that I had a little success in sport as a child. I was part of our primary school's 4 x 100m relay team that won a regional competition at Carluke Sports Stadium when I was about 12. It was the first time I'd ever run on a proper track. I was the second leg of a team that included John Hamilton, William Whitelaw and somebody else, lost in the annals of South Lanarkshire athletics history
He medalled
We were a very small school, and that was probably my first medal - presented on a podium beside the track. I think the school may have won the overall cup too. I've got a vague memory of our janitor, come trainer Archie McKellar, holding a cup aloft at the end of the day.
Does anybody else remember this? I doubt it. And as for the unexpected inaugural Rigside gala day five a side competition (real Roy of the Rovers stuff from a team stuffed with the 13-year-old equivalents of journeymen, against the village fancy Dans), I doubt anybody else recalls that. I wish I still had the trophy to be sure that my memory isn't playing tricks.

My son has his shiny piece of metal on a ribbon, but he'll also have pictures to remember it, and a Facebook trail of congratulations that is lengthening as I write this.
He'll remember this. I'm sure he will.

No comments: