Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The camera-friendly bloody-mindedness of Yohansson Nascimento

Having been away from London for the whole summer, I feel a little disconnected from the all-pervading jubilation that seems to have seized the city. Not that I didn’t love the opening ceremony and punch the air over Mo Farah’s triumphs and I’ve even grinned a wee bit at the non-Olympic excitement that will inevitably get folded into the cake mix of memory, such as Andy Murray’s nailbiter a few hours ago. (I bet when Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France, he thought “Well, that’s the BBC Sports Personality of the Year wrapped up.” Now he may not even get a nomination.)



And I did notice this vignette from the Paralympics, in which the Brazilian sprinter Yohansson Nascimento pulled up injured but insisted on crossing the line. Of course, Lu Xiang did much the same thing a few weeks before in the 110m hurdles; and older readers will recall Derek Redmond being helped towards the finish by his dad in 1992, a clip that always makes me well up.

Now, I’m not a professional athlete, so I’ve no idea what it feels like to have all your dreams dashed in a split-second, all that training gone to dust, your body turning round and biting you on your/its own arse. What are they setting out to prove by staggering, stumbling, falling over the line? We know that they can cover the distance. And we know that they’re injured, so we understand why they haven’t won. In the depths of their misery and agony, maybe they think, “At least if I finish I’ll make it onto the feelgood clips at the end of the tournament, when they play the Chariots of Fire music.”

And it’s only in race events, isn’t it? After Murray won the US Open, I bet Djokovic didn’t knock a few more balls over the net, just to prove he could.

PS: You are reading my Infinite Jest blog, aren’t you? It’s jolly good, you know. And not as long as the book. Yet.

4 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

I suppose you keep on because that's what you do, injured or not. (It wouldn't ever be what I do, though. )

DanPloy said...

There is always the chance the other athletes will fail the drugs test.

blackwatertown said...

@DanPloy - looking back to that Ben Johnson sprint, it's not beyond the bounds of possibility, given the number of guys in that race who were found to have indulged.
@Tim - like the idea of Djokovic doggedly whacking balls into an otherwise empty court, creeping out the ball boys and girls.

Tim Footman said...

Yes, Jenny, I think there's a sense that runners exist to run. It wasn't always the case, though - think of Bannister the neurosurgeon, Chataway and Coe the politicians...

Good point, Dan. And a cracking example of that from BWT. Despite all the crap heaped on Johnson, I do wonder whether one or two runners that day thinK "Thank God I didn't win that one." Naming no names...