Flashback Friday: Sports Day

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As a elementary/primary age schoolboy growing up in England, one of my favorite days of the year was “Sports Day”. It consisted of various fun events like the three-legged race, the sack race, the egg on a spoon race, etc. But the grand finale was always the 100m dash, where the fastest kid in the school was crowned for each grade level. Currently, residing in Texas where I am raising my 8 year old daughter, they have their version called “Field Day”. Pretty much it is a chance to do water slides all day since it is stinking hot here at the end of the school year. But as US Thanksgiving just passed here, the school did have an event called the “Turkey Trot”, which is a mile race around the school and positions and times are recorded. So, while this does not give you the fastest kid in the school, I guess we could say the best runner is awarded. Right about now you are probably thinking that I am going to tell you about how my daughter followed in my footsteps and cruised to victory (bit of foreshadowing there), but alas she has my wife’s genetics as far as distance running goes, 😳. Well selfishly then I will have to tell you about my 100m dominance that was scandalously cut short. Ok, let’s warp back to the early 1980s, Wybers Wood Primary School, Grimsby, England.

A week or so prior to Sports Day there was a qualification race out on the school field during Physical Education class in which the groupings for the final races were decided, the top 10 in the big one, and the remaining in consolations. This was always a walk in the park for me as I advanced to the final without breaking a sweat. Then Sports Day would arrive and I would have to endure the other fun events, but always with thoughts on the title. I don’t mean to toot my own horn but I was a fast little guy so the championships began to pile up, including one that led to my famous pic that made the local newspaper, and yes, there was some poor sap in the lane next to me…


Then came what I did not realize at the time was going to be my final race during the school year of 1986 as my parents were plotting a move to Canada behind the scenes. There was some added intrigue in the arrival of “the new kid”, who I could tell from playing footy (=soccer North Americans) after school was going to be a real threat, at least in a straight line anyway, there was no topping me in footy. The school term progressed and the chatter began to pick up as the big day drew closer. Something else was also going on that around that time, as I was having a combative relationship with the P.E. teacher, not sure what precipitated it exactly, but I could be an arrogant little bastard at times so let’s assume I said something smart-ass related. So, it was time for the qualification and as we were lining up the teacher told everyone to make sure their laces were tied. I had a slightly loose one so I bent down to give them a good tighten and I hear “Go!”, not preceded by the usual “Ready, Set”. Everyone shoots off other than a couple of us and I realize I am going to have to make up some serious ground. I blaze down the field and finish behind a group of students but think I have done just enough to crack the top 10. Then the teacher announces the results…11th, but it doesn’t end there, in 10th was “another Simon” (there were 4 in my class alone) who was running next to me who I clearly passed well before the finish line. There was a huge uproar throughout the crowd of kids as everyone knew they were being denied the “Clash of the Titans”. As my siblings can attest, I could complain with the best of them so needless to say I ended up in the Headmasters office for a talking to. All that was left was Sports Day. As you can imagine by now, I crushed the consolation final and the new kid won the title in the one that mattered, 😡. End of story, right? Naturally both of us needed to know, so we decided to race one on one, but not until after the summer holidays as everyone from school wanted to see the spectacle. I guess you know what happened next…I never returned as we up and moved to Canada. And to kick a kid when he was down, my mom sold my Star Wars At-At in the move, but that is a whole other story. Sure, there were 100m races in track and field at my new Canadian school but I had lost the urge to prove myself over again, and soon realized unless there was a ball and a net at the end, my racing days were over. And to that P.E. teacher, should this reach you somehow, I hope you are proud of yourself…


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