In the summer of 2004 I had qualified for the U.S. National Track Field Junior Olympics in Eugene, Oregon for the 800m run. My family decided to have a road trip from Orange County, California to Oregon, instead of flying there.
On the way we made several sightseeing stops. The Junior Olympics is the biggest track meet of the year mainly for youth athletes, and this was the last year for me to compete in this prestigious meet before entering high school. I wanted to end it with a bang.
The only problem was that this was my first trip to this meet. I had qualified in previous years but opted not to go. I was a little intimidated by the competition going into this meet.
There were three qualifying heats in which I had to place top two in my heat to get to the finals. I was able to win my heat right at the finish line, however, my time was the second slowest overall going into finals to be held two days later. I was very grateful to even make it to the finals but I started to doubt if I could really finish it with a bang.The day of the finals, my coach gave me a prep talk that I will never forget.
He knew I played a lot of basketball in my day and talked about the person who makes the winning shot. No one expects that person to do it; he just surprises everyone. My coach told me that no one there knew who I was.
I needed to ‘make that winning shot.’ I needed to surprise everyone and make myself known. Walking up to the starting line, I had absolutely nothing to lose. The gun went off and after the first lap I found myself in second to last.
Things did not look so well. With 300m to go, I decided to just give it all that I had. I started passing people one by one. I got to the final straightaway and I was in fourth place. I gave one last push to the end and passed two more guys in the last 30m. I ended up finishing in second place.
No one expected anything like that to happen. The only person to beat me was a long time friend that I have ran against for years. I can deal with losing to him. All that mattered to me was that I did it. I ended my junior high track career with a bang.
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