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Delhi FrontRunners - A determination!

I was at this human rights conference, at the 1st World Outgames, in Montreal, to present a paper actually.  My friend Robert asked me if I would like to do a sports event too?  Sports?!  Me?!!  I laughed.  Surely he's kidding, I thought.  He wasn't.  I tried to avoid him, tried making excuses, but eventually I succumbed - to his encouragement.  Encouragement that bordered on pressure.  So I said OK for a track and field event, 100 meters race.

Why 100 meters?  I had to think very hard.  Which sport can I do?  What games do I like?  None.  And then I remembered.  My first trophy was in a track and field event.  The Frog Race! 

But instead of leaping - as a frog should - I had scrambled on all four.  More like a spider than a frog.  Not surpising, I came first by a big lead.  I had cheated, unknowingly.  I thought the point was to reach the finishing line as fast as I could.  Why leap on two legs, when I can scramble faster on all four?  Surprisingly, the organisers didn't disqualify me.  I suppose you can't be very strict with 5 year olds.  Lucky me.

I wasn't so lucky the rest of my time at school.  I was clumsy at all games: cricket, volley ball, basket ball.  Other kids would mock me.  I started disliking all sports. 

It was not until university, while at law school, that I let my class mates 'encourage' me into doing sports.  It was for interclass sports competitions, for track and field events.  I did relays and won medals. 

With an illustrious history as this, I decided my international sports debut had to be a running event.  But more than that, quite honestly, 100 meters was ideal because it was the shortest event - in its duration.  The shorter the better, I thought.  The sooner my humiliation ends, the better.

I was still hoping I wouldn't have to do it actually.  I had every intention of dodging Robert (and the games) and partying in the gay village instead. Until a very determined Robert got hold of me on the last day of the conference, took me to the sports accreditation centre, stood with me in long lines, waited, and made sure I got my accreditation done.  There was no escape.

My event was scheduled for the 1st of August. I got there at eight in the morning. Robert had said he will be there, and he was. He showed me how to warm up. He even coached me a little in the little time there was.

When I was making my way to the starting point, I heard people cheering for other athletes. I thought: who would cheer for me? I should just be thankful if no one mocks me.

Then I heard Robert's voice, Go India! He had an India placard in one hand and the Indian flag in the other, and he was waving both with so much joy. That did it. I walked head-up and felt proud to be representing India.

I ran the race in 14.89 seconds. Out of 12 preliminary participants in my age category, I was 10th. I did not make it to the finals.

I was victorious nonetheless. It sounds clich├ęd but it's true. In the end my position did not matter to me. What mattered was that I confronted my demons. That I stood up.  And that I did it. 

I survived self-doubt. I ran. I won.

I determined to keep the spirit alive. I determined to start Delhi FrontRunners by the end of that year.



Photo by Robert Wintemute


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